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Viagra could be used to treat heart failure 2016-06-02
The North West has the highest number of people diagnosed with heart failure in the UK, according to new figures. A study by the British Heart Foundation found more than 65,000 people in the region suffer from the incurable condition.
The figures, gathered from local GP lists, mean the proportion of people with heart failure in the North West is almost double the figure for London.
However, new research at the University of Manchester could potentially lead to breakthroughs which would help the thousands of sufferers in the North West affected by the incurable condition.
BHF Senior Research Fellow Professor Andrew Trafford and his team have shown in the lab that heart cells from a failing heart survive longer when they receive a drug that blocks an enzyme called PDE5. The drug, commonly known as Viagra, is normally used to treat erectile dysfunction.
The researchers, funded by the BHF, are now looking to confirm whether the same drugs can also prevent abnormal heart rhythms which are responsible for killing up to half of heart failure patients.They hope that these two studies, in animals, will then lead to clinical trials in people with heart failure.
Heart failure is most commonly caused by a heart attack which causes damage to the heart that can never be repaired. This means a person's heart fails to pump blood around the body efficiently, leaving some sufferers in a constant fight for life. Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling. Up to a third of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure will die within twelve months.
While there is medication to manage the condition and control symptoms, there is currently no cure, and those with severe heart failure will eventually need a heart transplant to extend their life. Those with mild or moderate heart failure may be able to live a normal life with the right medication.
Through the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, the BHF has funded over £25 million of research into regenerative medicine across the UK. This work aims to help repair the heart following a heart attack, which would benefit the majority of heart failure patients.
"These exciting findings, which were made possible by people donating to the British Heart Foundation, pave the way for future studies in patients with heart failure or at risk of developing heart failure to confirm that Viagra and related drugs are indeed helpful new tools in the fight against heart disease."
– PROF ANDREW TRAFFORD