Erectile Dysfunction Drug May Help Patients with Muscular Dystrophy

By EmilyM

While most people know Viagra today for it’s most popular use, treating erectile dysfunction, the medication was actually first developed by Pfizer to help cardiac related health problems.

A new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights many great reasons to take the drug back to it’s roots.

New research is leading many to see Viagra’s potential for future therapies designed to help those suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, specifically the fatal heart complications associated with this degenerative disease.

Young boys are most prone to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is the most severe type of the disease. Currently an estimated 1 out of every 3,5000 boys is born with it. As a result of the disease, the body begins breaking down muscle, including the heart, causing  life expectancy for those suffering to be less than 40 years on average.

This new research conducted by Joseph Beavoa of the University of Washington and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, tested the effect of Viagra on mice that were altered to have a condition closely resembling Duchenne muscular dystrophy. While researchers admit they are not yet positive how the drug is working on the mice, they are  beginning to see positive results. The mice, whose hearts were damaged in a similar way that those with Duschenne muscular dystrophy, began to actually slow the deterioration process and, in some cases, even reverse the damage.

While this is the first time that Viagra use has been linked with muscular dystrophy treatment, the ability for ED medications to increase blood flow to the heart has been found useful for a variety of medical uses.  Not only are ED drugs used for altitude sickness, but also for various heart conditions and blood flow problems.

In fact, yet another use for Viagra has recently been suggested. CDH, or congenital diaphragmatic hernia, is an often fatal condition that many babies live no more than an hour or two with, while others may not make it to see their first birthday.

This horrifying condition causes harm as the intestines push up into the lungs and chest area of the newborn, resulting in labored breathing as the lungs and heart are pushed out of their normal alignment. If the baby lives past the first few days, the misalignment of the heart and lungs can later cause difficulty as the organs begin to grow. When used in a liquid form, Viagra has been found to actually help these babies breath more normally and help increase their chances of survival.

The concept that soon Viagra may be used as a common treatment for babies born with CDH, as well as muscular dystrophy, represents another ground breaking advancement  for modern medicine and Viagra’s role in helping a wider range of patients.