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Sildenafil and Alzheimer’s disease

New research about sildenafil and Alzheimer's disease.

New research has found that there may be a link between sildenafil, the active drug in Viagra, and Alzheimer’s disease[1].  

The study, which included data from 7 million people, found that people who regularly take sildenafil are about 69% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who don’t regularly take sildenafil[1]. 

 

These are promising results and will give hope to lots of people at risk of, or worried about, Alzheimer’s disease. But, at the moment, sildenafil isn’t licensed to treat Alzheimer’s disease. 

In the UK, sildenafil is currently only used to treat the following conditions[2]: 

  • People with erectile dysfunction – difficulty getting or keeping an erection. 

  • People with pulmonary arterial hypertension – a type of high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs[3].  

  • People with digital ulcers caused by systemic sclerosis – a condition that affects the skin and internal organs[4]. 

Further research, in the form of a randomised control trial, will be needed to decide whether sildenafil can be used to help other conditions in the future, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

If you’re worried about Alzheimer’s disease, you can talk to your GP or contact the Alzheimer’s Society for support and information. 

If you have symptoms of erectile dysfunction, talk to your GP or a pharmacist. There is treatment and support that can help. Read more about erectile dysfunction and ways you can treat it

Where can I get further support and information?

As well as talking to your pharmacist or GP, there are a number of charities and organisations offering support and information.

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Published

December 2021

Next review

December 2023

Reviewed by

Gill Stone MRPharmS

References

  1. 1.

    Endophenotype-based in silico network medicine discovery combined with insurance record data mining identifies sildenafil as a candidate drug for Alzheimer’s disease | Nature Aging. Published 2021. Accessed December 9, 2021.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s43587-021-00138-z
  2. 2.

    Excellence NTNI for H and C. BNF: British National Formulary - NICE. Accessed December 9, 2021.

    https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/sildenafil.html
  3. 3.

    Pulmonary hypertension. nhs.uk. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed December 9, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pulmonary-hypertension/
  4. 4.

    Scleroderma. nhs.uk. Published October 18, 2017. Accessed December 9, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/scleroderma/