The Possibility of Treating Heart Failure With Erectile Dysfunction Drug

According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers gave sheep with advanced heart failure the drug Tadalafil. The researchers discovered that this treatment improved the animals’ heart contractions strength. It also reversed some harmful cellular effects observed in heart failure. The findings agree with huge evidence suggesting that erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs can help individuals with heart failure. This is a condition in which heart muscles cannot pump enough blood to the body.

Heart Failure

Case study

Heart failure happens to be a serious condition. Existing treatments are not always effective. Almost half of the people diagnosed with heart failure pass away within a period of five years after diagnosis. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the new study was conducted in sheep, more research will be required to tell if the results apply to humans too.  It is not advisable for people to self-treat heart failure using tadalafil. This is according to Andrew Trafford, the lead author of the study.  More studies are needed also because tadalafil could have serious side effects once combined with other drugs. People should consult a doctor before taking ED drugs.

ED drugs and the heart

The most common ED drug, sildenafil, usually referred to as Viagra, was originally meant to treat angina. This is chest pain caused by a reduced blood flow to the heart. However, the drug never produced the heart effects researchers were hoping for. It had fascinating side effects among men. It gave them strong and persistent erections.

The findings led to more research which led to sildenafil’s approval as an ED drug.

Sildenafil works by inhibiting the enzyme known as phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5). It is found in a variety of tissues including the penis and blood vessels. PDE5 does the role of regulating blood flow. Some studies say that PDE5 inhibitors may affect heart cells.

Studies later suggested that PDE5 inhibitors could be of benefit to the heart. A study in 2016 showed that for men with type 2 diabetes who had a high risk of heart failure, taking PDE5 inhibitors lowered their risk of early death.

In the current study, researchers induced advanced heart failure using pacemakers in sheep. They then administered tadalafil similar to the one used in ED treatment. They found that the treatment stopped heart failure progression. It also reversed some harmful cellular effects observed in heart failure. The authors said that it improved the heart cells’ ability to respond to the hormone adrenaline. This consequently increased the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body.


Future studies are required to show that PDE5 inhibitors help patients with heart failure. Previously, some of the drugs which improved heart function were unable to help patients.

Additionally, future studies should show PDE5 inhibitors work as well or better than the current drugs used to treat heart failure.

Would you consider taking an ED drug for heart issues? We would appreciate it if you shared your thoughts on the discussion in the comment section below.


Rettner, R. (2019, 05 01). Live Science. Retrieved 05 06, 2019, from



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