Erectile dysfunction drugs may trump nitroglycerin for heart protection

March 02, 2007

RICHMOND, Va. (March 2, 2007) - Erectile dysfunction drugs may be better than nitroglycerin in protecting the heart from damage before and after a severe heart attack, Virginia Commonwealth University researchers report today.

During a heart attack, the heart is deprived of oxygen, which can result in significant damage to heart muscle and tissue. After the attack, most patients require treatment to reduce and repair the damage and improve their chances of survival. With the exception of early reperfusion, there are no available therapies that are truly effective in protecting or repairing such damage clinically.

Rakesh C. Kukreja, Ph.D., professor of medicine and Eric Lipman Chair of Cardiology at VCU, and colleagues compared nitroglycerin with two erectile dysfunction drugs -- Viagra®, generically known as sildenafil, and Levitra®, generically known as vardenafil -- to determine the effectiveness of each for heart protection following a heart attack. Nitroglycerin is a drug used to treat angina, or chest pain. It is a vasodilator and opens blood vessels in order to improve the flow of blood to a patient's heart.

The research team reported that in an animal model, sildenafil and vardenafil reduce damage in the heart muscle when given after a severe heart attack. In contrast, nitroglycerin failed to reduce the damage in the heart when administered under similar conditions. The findings were published in the February issue of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, the official publication of the International Society for Heart Research.

"Erectile dysfunction drugs can prevent damage in the heart not only when given before a heart attack, as we discovered previously, but also lessen the injury after the heart attack," said Kukreja, who is the lead author of the study.

According to Kukreja, the protective effects on the heart produced by these erectile dysfunction drugs may be potentially useful as adjunct therapy in patients undergoing elective procedures, including coronary artery bypass graft, coronary angioplasty or heart transplantation. In addition, he said another potential application could be to prevent the multiple organ damage that occurs following cardiac arrest, resuscitation or shock.

"Preserving heart function is critical to optimal cardiac outcomes," said George W. Vetrovec, M.D., chair of cardiology at the VCU Pauley Heart Center. "These agents have significant potential to enhance patient outcomes, particularly in high risk circumstances, such as acute heart attacks."

For several years, Kukreja and his colleagues have studied a class of erectile dysfunction drugs known as phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors as part of ongoing research into heart protection. The team first investigated sildenafil, and then vardenafil, and found that both compounds were protective when given before a heart attack under experimental conditions.
-end-
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Pfizer Inc., and Bayer Healthcare AG.

The Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology is published by Elsevier Publishing.

About VCU and the VCU Medical Center: Virginia Commonwealth University is the largest university in Virginia and ranks among the top 100 universities in the country in sponsored research. Located on two downtown campuses in Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in nearly 200 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-three of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU's 15 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation's leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Related Heart Attack Articles from Brightsurf:

Top Science Tip Sheet on heart failure, heart muscle cells, heart attack and atrial fibrillation results
Newly discovered pathway may have potential for treating heart failure - New research model helps predict heart muscle cells' impact on heart function after injury - New mass spectrometry approach generates libraries of glycans in human heart tissue - Understanding heart damage after heart attack and treatment may provide clues for prevention - Understanding atrial fibrillation's effects on heart cells may help find treatments - New research may lead to therapy for heart failure caused by ICI cancer medication

Molecular imaging identifies link between heart and kidney inflammation after heart attack
Whole body positron emission tomography (PET) has, for the first time, illustrated the existence of inter-organ communication between the heart and kidneys via the immune system following acute myocardial infarction.

Muscle protein abundant in the heart plays key role in blood clotting during heart attack
A prevalent heart protein known as cardiac myosin, which is released into the body when a person suffers a heart attack, can cause blood to thicken or clot--worsening damage to heart tissue, a new study shows.

New target identified for repairing the heart after heart attack
An immune cell is shown for the first time to be involved in creating the scar that repairs the heart after damage.

Heart cells respond to heart attack and increase the chance of survival
The heart of humans and mice does not completely recover after a heart attack.

A simple method to improve heart-attack repair using stem cell-derived heart muscle cells
The heart cannot regenerate muscle after a heart attack, and this can lead to lethal heart failure.

Mount Sinai discovers placental stem cells that can regenerate heart after heart attack
Study identifies new stem cell type that can significantly improve cardiac function.

Fixing a broken heart: Exploring new ways to heal damage after a heart attack
The days immediately following a heart attack are critical for survivors' longevity and long-term healing of tissue.

Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath
Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.

How the heart sends an SOS signal to bone marrow cells after a heart attack
Exosomes are key to the SOS signal that the heart muscle sends out after a heart attack.

Read More: Heart Attack News and Heart Attack Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.