Men with erectile dysfunction, who do not show improvement with Viagra could now benefit from statin therapy. The preliminary results of a study highlight the use of statins for management of endothelial dysfunction in patients suffering from erectile dysfunction. The result of this small, yet promising study conducted by University of Pennsylvania researchers is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) in men more commonly signifies an underlying vascular abnormality involving the lining of the blood vessels. It can lead to build up of plaque and result in blockage of the arteries. The ability to sustain an erection is largely dependent on an adequate blood flow to the penis. Atherosclerosis, a consequence of plaque build up in the penile arteries, often results in ED.
Previous studies have already established an association between heart disease and erectile dysfunction. Both the conditions share similar risk factors. Infact, ED can be a marker for the presence of heart disease.
Nitric oxide is essential for a normal erection, but when the body does not make enough of it, due to vascular disease, erectile dysfunction manifests. Viagra, which is most commonly used for treatment of ED, prevents the break down of nitric acid, ensuring that adequate amount of the compound is left for erection to occur.
The problem with the use of Viagra, however is that about 10-30% of all ED patients, fail to respond to Viagra and are classified as 'Viagra non-responders'. The researchers identified this small group of men and encouraged them to participate in a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The study participants were either given a placebo or Lipitor (high-dose).
Surprisingly, the researchers observed an improvement in the performance of patients who were provided with Lipitor. In order to substantiate the findings, the researchers provided Viagra and documented the ED treatment outcome. The researchers argue that more nitric oxide could be made available by use of statins that could make the endothelium healthy. Perhaps, it may be possible for the patient to respond better to Viagra at a later stage, owing to enhanced endothelial function.
The results of the present study has valuable clinical implications as it can be used for the management of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patients, who suffer from vascular complications. The researchers have warned that more clinical trials involving a large group of patients is necessary before it can be approved for clinical use. Furthermore, factors other than that listed above may be responsible for poor response to Viagra.