Whether you’re looking for tips to improve your performance between the sheets, answers to a question or two, or help with an issue you can’t take to even your most trusted friend, our expert can help. It’s time to get schooled.

By Martin Downs, MPH

Photograph by Alamy

Photograph by Alamy

There’s been news lately that Viagra may protect against heart disease. If heart disease runs in my family, and I’m already taking cholesterol-lowering medicine to protect my heart, could I get a prescription for Viagra even if I don’t have erectile dysfunction?

 

Sildenafil citrate, the drug we know as Viagra, was first tested as a treat-ment for high blood pressure and angina (chest pain caused by too little blood flow to the heart). But its ability to restore men’s potency vastly eclipsed its potential as a heart medicine. It’s been on the market for 17 years now, and is so widely used, there’s been renewed interest in its heart-health benefits.

Viagra and similar erectile-dysfunction (ED) drugs Cialis and Levitra work by making constricted blood vessels relax and widen, increasing blood flow to the penis—where the effect is most obvious—but not only the penis. The drugs can improve blood flow throughout the body.

Viagra is already approved to treat a rare form of high blood pressure called pulmonary arterial hypertension. Many studies over the years have shown that ED drugs may have various benefits related to improving blood flow. Recently, researchers analyzed the pooled results of many smaller studies on Viagra, and found that Viagra appears to be good for the heart and could be used to prevent and treat heart disease. In addition, studies with Cialis and Levitra have also shown cardiovascular benefits.

That doesn’t mean doctors will now start prescribing Viagra as heart medicine. There would have to be a whole new set of clinical trials carried out, a process that takes years. But, as they say in the commercials, only your doctor can diagnose ED and determine if taking Viagra is right for you. Problems with getting and keeping an erection, and decreased firmness of erections, can be early warning signs of heart disease. So if you see a doctor regularly to manage your heart-disease risk, bring up the topic of ED during your next visit.

 

From the March 2015 issue of Penthouse