A large new study involving more than a quarter million men with erectile dysfunction (ED) suggests that common medications for this problem might be repurposed to help prevent Alzheimer's disease. The research, published online, indicates that drugs like Viagra and Cialis (which belong to a group of medicines called PDE5 inhibitors) were 18 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's than men with erectile dysfunction who did not take the drugs.
The study involved analysis of electronic health records representing about 270,000 men age 40 and older who had a new diagnosis of erectile dysfunction between 2000 and 2017. Participants didn't have cognitive impairment at the start of the study, but during an average follow-up period of five years, 1,119 were diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia.
The researchers calculated the percentage risk difference between the two groups after adjusting for other factors that could affect the rate of Alzheimer's disease, such as age, smoking status, and alcohol consumption. The paper highlighted that the association with Alzheimer's risk reduction was strongest in those who were issued the most prescriptions over the study period.
This study suggests a potential link between the use of erectile dysfunction medications and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, providing a new avenue for research and potential treatment options.