Viagra Might Improve More Than Just Your Sex Life, Research Suggests

Turns out the little blue pill might be a multitasker.

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It's been the butt of many, many jokes since it was introduced in 1998, but Viagra (sildenafil) has helped countless men manage what can be a devastating medical condition. And it looks like the little blue pill might be useful in other ways, too: New research has linked erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs with decreased mortality and lower risk of being hospitalized for heart failure.

In the study, which is scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session this year, researchers analyzed data from more than 43,000 Swedish men that was collected over an average of roughly three years. They looked specifically at men who had suffered a heart attack between 2007 and 2013 and then comparing the health of those who filled a prescription for a phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitor (think: Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis) after their heart attack with those who did not.

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After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers found that the men who were prescribed a PDE5 inhibitor were 33 percent less likely to die (from any cause!) than the men who weren't. They also were 40 percent less likely to be hospitalized for heart failure than those not taking ED drugs. Who would've thought?

But Wait, There's More: Viagra and Diabetes Prevention

This isn't the first time ED meds have gotten a nod from science: In a small November 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found that Viagra increased insulin sensitivity in overweight patients with prediabetes. One of the main causes of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, which occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or doesn't use insulin efficiently enough to clear sugar from the bloodstream. So improving insulin sensitivity is an important part of preventing diabetes, especially in people who are at high risk.

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Basically, this means that Viagra might be a two-for-one: a safe way to lower your risk for death and disease that also helps you maintain a healthy sex life. But don't ask your doctors about using the little blue pill to treat heart disease or diabetes just yet.

Researchers still have a lot more to learn (like whether these health benefits are merely linked to taking erectile dysfunction meds or a direct result of taking them), and further studies are needed to determine whether Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors are really reliable tools for preventing heart disease and the onset of diabetes.

But if your doctor determines that it's safe for you to take Viagra and prescribes you the little blue pill to help improve your sex life, it doesn't hurt to know that you just might be reaping some other health benefits, too.

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