Drug News

New Study Reports How Some Erectile Dysfunction Meds May Affect Alzheimer’s Risk

A recent study published in Neurology suggests that men prescribed drugs to treat newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction (ED) may have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) over a 5-year follow-up period. The research, drawing from primary healthcare data in the United Kingdom, indicates an 18% lower risk of AD among men who received prescriptions for phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) such as sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis), compared to those who did not take the drugs.

The study, led by senior author Ruth Brauer, PhD, from the University College London, included 269,725 men with newly diagnosed ED, of whom 55% had been prescribed PDE5Is. The participants, initially free from memory or cognitive issues, were followed for an average of 5.1 years. The researchers adjusted for various potential AD risk factors, including smoking, alcohol use, BMI, hypertension, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and concomitant medication use.

Among those who received PDE5I prescriptions, 749 were diagnosed with AD during the study period, compared to 370 in the non-PDE5I group. Overall, initiation of PDE5Is was associated with an 18% lower risk of AD, with a stronger association observed in individuals aged 70 years or older and those with a history of hypertension or diabetes. Notably, those with more prescriptions had a greater risk reduction, with a 44% lower risk for AD in those with 21-50 prescriptions and a 35% lower risk in those with more than 50 prescriptions.

However, the study did not find an association between PDE5I use and AD risk in individuals who received fewer than 20 prescriptions. Subgroup analyses revealed evidence of reduced AD risk in those prescribed sildenafil, but not in those prescribed tadalafil or vardenafil. Additionally, lower AD risk was observed in patients with hypertension, diabetes, and older men, but not in younger men or those without a history of hypertension or diabetes.

Despite controlling for various potential confounders, Brauer acknowledged that unmeasured factors like physical and sexual activity, which were not tracked, could have influenced the results. Therefore, while the findings are promising and suggest a direction for future research, caution is urged in interpreting them, especially regarding the use of PDE5Is to reduce AD risk. Further validation in broader populations, including women and men without ED, is deemed necessary before considering clinical recommendations or public health policies based on these findings.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker