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Study shows that Viagra may help prevent dementia

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New research suggests that Viagra might also improve blood flow to the brain.

Viagra

RESEARCHERS at Oxford University have discovered a surprising potential treatment for dementia: Viagra.

Viagra, commercially known as Sildenafil, is typically used to treat erectile dysfunction by enhancing blood flow to the penis.

New research suggests it might also improve blood flow to the brain.

Dementia presents in various forms, namely impaired memory, thinking, and decision-making abilities.

Dementia SA reports that international statistics have found dementia to be the third most expensive disease to treat. It affects one in twenty individuals over 65 and one in five over 80.

South Africa, with its increasing elderly population, challenging socio-economic conditions, and the highest global HIV/AIDS infection rate, is particularly at risk. It is estimated that one in three people with HIV/AIDS will develop dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

However, around 10 percent of cases are associated with strokes and issues related to blood flow in the brain, known as vascular dementia. Risk factors for vascular dementia include diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

What’s the Viagra connection?

“This is the first trial to show that Sildenafil gets into the blood vessels in the brain in people with this condition, improving blood flow and how responsive these blood vessels are,” said Alastair Webb, Associate Professor at the Wolfson Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia at Oxford University, in a statement.

“These two key factors are associated with chronic damage to the small blood vessels in the brain, which is the commonest cause of vascular dementia.”

Webb and his colleagues’ study involved 75 patients and demonstrated that Sildenafil increased blood flow in both large and small brain vessels.

“This demonstrates the potential of this well-tolerated, widely-available drug to prevent dementia, which needs testing in larger trials,” Webb added.

The researchers aim to conduct larger trials to further investigate Sildenafil’s potential.

“Professor Webb’s findings are very encouraging and highlight the potential for preventing vascular dementia using existing drugs that target the underlying reduction in flow in the small blood vessels in the brain,” stated Peter Rothwell, Founding Director of the Wolfson Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia and a professor in clinical neurology at the University of Oxford.

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