Sildenafil May Help Ward Off Type 2 Diabetes

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  November 19, 2015 at 5:48 PM Health In Focus
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Sildenafil, a drug first marketed as Viagra, shot into fame due to its unique ability to treat erectile dysfunction. A new study published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicates that sildenafil may delay the onset of diabetes in overweight people with pre-diabetes.
Sildenafil May Help Ward Off Type 2 Diabetes
Sildenafil May Help Ward Off Type 2 Diabetes

Pre-diabetes is a condition where the patient has higher than normal blood glucose level, but does not yet qualify for the definition of diabetes. A fasting blood glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL, or A1C of 5.7 to 6.4 percent, or an oral glucose tolerance test result of 140 to 199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes.

Individuals with prediabetes demonstrate some amount of insulin resistance, that is, the insulin produced by the body is not very effective in controlling blood glucose levels. In the early stages, this insulin resistance can be reversed or, in other words, the insulin sensitivity can be increased by lifestyle changes like controlling diet, weight and regular exercise. However, not all people have the discipline to follow these on a regular basis.Therefore, drugs are being tried out to tackle the impending diabetes at this stage and prevent its progression, which often leads to complications. One of the drugs that appear to be effective is sildenafil.

Sildenafil is a drug that relaxes blood vessels by increasing the levels of a substance called cGMP in the body. Just like another similar drug tadalafil, it has been used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension. A recently published trial indicates that it may be useful in prediabetes as well. cGMP increases insulin sensitivity and this may be the probable mechanism for the effect of sildenafil in diabetes patients.

In the study, patients received sildenafil 25 mg three times a day for 3 months. The final analysis was carried out on 42 participants, half of them took sildenafil while the other half were administered a placebo.

Based on tests carried out on the participants, the researchers found that insulin sensitivity was better in patients who took sildenafil. These participants also had lesser excretion of albumin in the urine. Loss of albumin in the urine occurs as a complication of diabetes, which if left untreated, can result in kidney failure.

A longer study on more number of individuals with prediabetes could establish the role of sildenafil in prediabetes.

It must be noted however that sildenafil is a prescription medication and is known to cause side effects like low blood pressure and vision loss, and increase the chances of heart attack in certain individuals. Therefore, it will have to be used with caution even if it is approved for prevention of diabetes. Finally, though difficult to follow, there is nothing to beat a healthy lifestyle in preventing diabetes and several other modern-day illnesses.

References:

Claudia E. Ramirez, Nian Hui, Chang Yu, Jorge L. Gamboa, James M. Luther, Nancy J. Brown, Cyndya A. Shibao. Treatment with Sildenafil Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Prediabetes: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2015; jc.2015-3415 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2015-3415

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/insulin-resistance-prediabetes/Pages/index.aspx

Source: Medindia

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