Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Viagra to Treat Muscular Dystrophy?

Study: Viagra May Help Protect Against Heart Problems Associated With Childhood Muscular Dystrophy
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 12, 2008 -- A class of drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction may one day help delay or even prevent heart failure in patients with the most common forms of muscular dystrophy, according to a study published in the May 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle-wasting disease that primarily strikes boys between ages 2 and 6 years old. It affects all voluntary muscles, including the lungs and heart. Most patients die before age 30. Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a less severe variant called Becker muscular dystrophy affect about one in every 3,500 to 5,000 boys in the United States.

Maya Khairallah of the Montreal Heart Institute and colleagues assigned mice with muscular dystrophy to either a placebo or Viagra. The mice received the drug once a day for six weeks.

Imaging tests showed that the mice that received Viagra had improved heart performance.

Viagra is a type of drug called a phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitor. It blocks the enzyme PDE5 and prevents the breakdown of a natural substance called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).

Khairallah's team also discovered that having a gene that increased cGMP production helped maintain normal heart function in mice with muscular dystrophy.

The findings support existing theories that defects in the cGMP signaling pathway play an important role in the development of muscular dystrophy-related heart muscle problems. The study's authors believe their research suggests that the evolution of heart problems in muscular dystrophy patients could be prevented by partially restoring this pathway. Therefore, medications that increase cGMP signaling, such as Viagra, may prove to be a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of muscular dystrophy-related cardiomyopathies (heart muscle problems) in the future.

The researchers encourage future studies to determine whether PDE5 inhibitors could delay, prevent, or even reverse the onset of heart injury and loss of function in patients with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
jennifer aniston
Slideshow
 
Measles virus
Article
sick child
Slideshow
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool