Popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra could have a surprising side benefit after researchers found that it could be used in patients with diastolic heart failure to relax the stiff heart muscle.
Researchers led by Professor Wolfgang Linke, from the Ruhr Universitat Bochum (RUB) in Germany, found that Viagra activated an enzyme that caused a protein, known as titin, in heart cells to relax and thereby improve the blood flow into the heart.
The researchers tested the effect in animals and expressed confidence that they will soon be able to translate it into human testing. Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, was originally created as a potential cure for high blood pressure and heart disease but resulted in the unexpected inducing of penile erections.
"The titin molecules are similar to rubber bands. They contribute decisively to the stiffness of the cardiac walls. The activity of the protein kinase G causes titin to relax. This makes the cardiac walls more elastic. The effect occurs within minutes of administering the drug", Professor Linke said.