The drug class statins may offer hope to men who haven't gotten
improved erectile performance from drugs like Viagra.
So conclude researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine who say early findings from a small study show that this
class of cholesterol-lowering drugs appear to improve erectile
dysfunction(ED) in that population.
About 10 to 30 percent of men with ED are considered "Viagra
non-responders," the researchers said.
In a placebo-based study, 12 patients with ED who had not responded
well to Viagra were given either high-dose Lipitor or placebo. The
patients then tried using Viagra again.
"There did seem to be some improvement for those who received Lipitor
versus the placebo," said Lead Investigator Howard Herrman.
The statin drug appeared to improve the chances of Viagra being
effective because it treats the underlying problem in many Viagra
non-responders, a condition known as endothelial dysfunction, which is
often one of the first signs of atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque
and blockages in the arteries.
Patients with this condition do not have enough nitric oxide available
for a normal erection to occur, the researchers explained.
"We theorized that if you could make the edothelium healthier through
the use of statins -- so that there is more nitric oxide available --
you would improve the endothelial dysfunction and Viagra would work
better for the patient," Herrman said.
"It's already known that there is a connection between erectile
dysfunction and coronary disease. The risk factors are the same for
both, and thus, ED can be a marker for coronary disease," he noted.
The findings also suggest that any drug class that improves
endothelial dysfunction --like statins -- might also benefit patients
with diabetes, the researchers said.
The study results are published in the March issue of the Journal of