Sexual Health News for Senior Citizens
Sex Health News for Seniors
Seniors taking Viagra may also be lowering their risk of diabetes
Erectile dysfunction, diabetes target older men, most frequent users of ED meds with sildenafil
Nov. 18, 2015 - Fewer senior men should be developing diabetes now days, if a new study is correct in its finding that sildenafil, a drug used in Viagra and other brand names, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of diabetes.
More than 40% of all cases of diabetes in the U.S. occur in senior citizens age 65 and older, according to HealthInAging.org. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of aging. It develops in up to one in five older adults.
Men are more likely to have erectile dysfunction as they get older. For example, ED occurs in only about 12 percent of men younger than 60, but hits about 22 percent of those age 60 to 69, and 30 percent of those over 70, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Sildenafil inhibits an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), resulting in relaxation of smooth muscle, vasodilation and increased blood flow. Sildenafil is used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Animal studies suggest that sildenafil also can improve insulin sensitivity, the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream by muscle. This action can lower the level of circulating glucose, and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center reported today that overweight individuals with prediabetes were randomly assigned to receive sildenafil or placebo (inactive drug) for three months.
Of the 42 subjects who completed the study, those treated with sildenafil were significantly more sensitive to insulin.
The research was reported in today's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
While further studies are needed to determine whether long-term treatment can prevent the onset of diabetes in high-risk patients, "sildenafil and related drugs could offer a potential avenue for addressing the rising number of diabetes diagnoses," said Nancy J. Brown, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt.
Brown, the Hugh J. Morgan Professor of Medicine, was co-senior author of the study with Cyndya A. Shibao, M.D., MSCI, assistant professor of Medicine.
According to the Endocrine Society, more than 26 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, in which the body's tissues are resistant to insulin. Incidence of the disease, which is associated with obesity, is growing rapidly.
Weight loss and exercise regimens are difficult for many people, and some current medications aimed at preventing diabetes are limited by concerns about adverse effects, Brown said.
Sildenafil and related drugs prevent PDE5 from breaking down a chemical in the body called cyclic GMP, which relaxes blood vessels and increases insulin sensitivity. But unlike some other methods of raising cyclic GMP, sildenafil did not decrease an anti-clotting chemical in the body, the Vanderbilt researchers reported.
Claudia Ramirez, M.D., research fellow in Clinical Pharmacology, was the study's first author. Other co-authors were James Luther, M.D., MSCI, Jorge Gamboa, M.D., Ph.D., Chang Yu, Ph.D., and Hui Nian.
The research was supported in part by National Institutes of Health.
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