Viagra to return to its original purpose?

Viagra is best known as the drug of choice for men with erectile dysfunction, but when the blue pill was created, it wasn’t intended to…
Viagra to return to its original purpose?

What was the original purpose of Viagra? (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Viagra is best known as the drug of choice for men with erectile dysfunction, but when the blue pill was created, it wasn’t intended to have anything to do with sexual activities.

It’s been almost 16 years since Viagra was introduced onto the market, but in 1989 when it was first being tested and used, developers intended the medication for treatment of cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, a number of adverse affects were reported in relation to treating the intended conditions, and one very unique, common side-effect kept being brought up–an erection after use.

SEE ALSO: How to prevent erectile dysfunction and preserve your erection

Though disappointed the medication wasn’t the cure-all as a cardiovascular drug, researchers decided to switch gears and start testing the product for sexual dysfunction. Pfizer senior scientist Chris Wayman was charged with investigating what was happening, indicates a report from BBC, and after a number of test-tube studies of penile tissue, he concluded that Viagra helped penile blood vessels relax in the same way needed to achieve an erection.

“What was amazing about this study was that we saw a restoration of the erectile response. Now we were on to something which could only be described as special,” Wayman said at the time. And now, Viagra is the most commonly prescribed erectile dysfunction medication in the world.

But what about its original purpose?

Since its commercial release for treatment of sexual dysfunction, doctors have cautioned that Viagra is not for people with heart disease. This word of warning is the result of numerous adverse events–including sudden death–when Viagra is used by people with heart conditions. As it turns out, however, Viagra may not be solely to blame, and it may very well have a place in the medicine cabinet for cardiovascular disease.

A new study suggests Viagra should still be used for heart conditions, but doctors just need to be aware of how it interacts with other medications. In most of the adverse events, it was an interaction between Viagra and another medication (usually nitro compounds) that caused the serious health issue, not just the Viagra alone.

The drug combination increases the risk of a sudden drop in blood pressure during sex, which could be harmful for someone with existing heart problems.

“Viagra’s results as an anti-angina drug were only modest, but patients reported the unexpected side effect of improved erections,” explained lead author Andrea M. Isidori on the BioMed Central website. “The focus of interest in this drug shifted rapidly from the heart to the bedroom… When Viagra is taken correctly, it is no longer a concern.”

SEE ALSO: Common sexual dysfunctions in men: What to do?

What’s more, the heart benefits of Viagra are very real, according to the new research. Not only did the medication prevent the heart from enlarging and changing shape in patients suffering from left ventricular hypertrophy, a condition that causes thickening of the muscles in the left ventricle, it also improved heart performance in all patients with different heart conditions, with no negative effect on the patients’ blood pressure.

The study authors concluded that Viagra should be re-instated as a heart medication, but because it does have legitimate sexual side-effects, more long-term studies should be done before it is re-marketed for cardiovascular health.