Viagra is a commonly used medication for combating erectile difficulty in men. It is famously referred as the little blue pill by millions of males all over the globe. However, it may do more than increasing erections, as new research shows that Viagra added to artery-opening stents might cut down blood clot formation significantly.
Alternative use for a popular medication
Viagra (sildenafil) is a prescription medication with the express purpose of treating impotence and erectile difficulty. It helps men maintain erections when sexually aroused. The drug works by increasing blood flow to the penis.
Cardiac stents are an entirely different story. They are tiny mesh tubes designed to keep the vital blood vessels of the heart open, essentially propping up failing blood vessels. While highly effective, these devices can become less effective over time, leading the blood vessel to become blocked once again.
The research team used Viagra (sildenafil) as a coated lining on stents to prevent blood vessels from closing again
“If similar results are found in clinical trials, sildenafil could be an ideal drug for coating drug-eluting [emitting] stents or to give orally after stent implantation,” study lead author Dr. Han-Mo Yang, an associate professor of cardiology at Seoul National University Hospital.
Positive results from animal studies
The team’s study done on rats found that the drug increased the activity of enzymes that prevented artery walls from thickening in response to injury. This may be significant, as the procedure for implanting stents can result in excessive vascular injury, leading to scar tissue formation and re-closure.
However, this finding also holds significant implications for those who have already had a stent placed.
“If clinical trials show that sildenafil reduces [artery re-closure] after stent placement, it could be used in the clinical setting right away because the drug is already used in the real world for other purposes,” Yang noted.
While human trials have yet to be carried out, the researchers and other heart specialists believe the approach has a lot of promise.
“[Use of Viagra in this way] may open the frontiers to making cardiac stenting procedures even safer and more effective,” said Dr. Avneet Singh an interventional cardiologist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.