Viagra is well known for its primary use (for the treatment of erectile dysfunction), although it was originally supposed to be a remedy for heart disease. Therefore, it stands to reason to assume that the drug would have a multipurpose nature. What alternative medical uses are peculiar to sildenafil citrate, the main component of Viagra, which is responsible for its beneficial effect?
Several years ago, scientists from the University of Virginia discovered that in rodents, a combination of sildenafil citrate and doxorubicin (one of the anthracycline antibiotics, a cytostatic drug) kills prostate cancer cells and provides protection against cardiac adverse effects of doxorubicin.
This may mean that Viagra itself is ineffective against cancers of the male reproductive system, but it can protect the heart during treatment with powerful anticancer medications.
In addition to treating erectile dysfunction, sildenafil is also approved by the FDA for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. As scientists indicate, due to a high-class evidence, sildenafil is indicated for monotherapy (i.e. use solely) and sequential combination therapy of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). At the same time, the effectiveness of sequential combination treatment is considered reasoned, in particular, with the addition of the drug macitentan (trade name Opsumit) to sildenafil citrate. The mechanism of sildenafil’s action is similar to how it acts in erectile dysfunction and is associated with the inhibition of PDE5 (type 5 phosphodiesterase). Sildenafil selectively inhibits PDE5, increases the content of cGMP in the wall of the pulmonary vessels, which leads to vasodilation (this mean that blood vessels expand), suppression of proliferation and other specific effects. Thus, the medication improves PAH symptoms and contributes to increased exercise capacity.
Altitude sickness or altitude hypoxia is an unpleasant condition associated with oxygen starvation due to a decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen (without going into the details of this specific term, it is a decrease in concentration) in the inhaled air that occurs high in the mountains. Sildenafil may be useful in this case. It is known that hypoxia can lead to symptoms similar to those that occur with pulmonary hypertension. It is with this fact that the beneficial effect of sildenafil in the mountains is linked to.
Interestingly, in 2016, Park Geun-hye, the former president of South Korea, was discredited due to revealed buying hundreds of sildenafil tablets for her employees. According to her, the drug was not intended to treat erectile dysfunction but to combat altitude sickness during a trip of the president and her workers to African countries (Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya).
Disturbance of Daily Biorhythm due to Long-Distance Flight (Jet Lag)
If you have experienced long-term flights, in this case you are fully aware of how negatively jetlag can affect you. It is reported that sildenafil citrate has a great effect on a substance called cGMP, which circulates in the body. This substance can affect the sleep-wake biorhythms, releasing hormones that regulate neurotransmitters. Scientists used sildenafil in testing in animals to determine what effect this drug exerts on adapting to new conditions after the flight. Shockingly, the animals quickly adapted to changes in sunlight regime. This suggests that sildenafil may be an effective means of dealing with the effects of long-distance flights in humans.
According to a study by researchers at Pfizer Global Research and Development (2008), sildenafil citrate showed neurorestorative effect in rats with stroke. So the scientists advised to investigate anti-stroke properties of the medicine in detail. On the other hand, in 2006, medicos at Zagreb School of Medicine and University Hospital Center published a study according to which stroke is, although rare, real adverse event of sildenafil. So data in this regard is controversial.
Read a related article: Viagra-Like Medications for Heart Attacks
Other Alternative Uses of The Substance
There are also suggestions and little scientific evidence that the medication can be useful for improving memory and cognitive functions, treating myocardial infarction, etc. However, these are serious diseases that require prescribing medications by a certified doctor and often hospitalization. Therefore, self-medication is contraindicated in any case.