Erectile dysfunction drugs appear to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) used to treat erectile dysfunction might also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease onset, researchers reported on Feb. 7, 2024 in Neurology.
“Although we’re making progress with the new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease that work to clear amyloid plaques in the brain for people with early stages of the disease, we desperately need treatments that can prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” said author Ruth Brauer, PhD, of the University College in London, UK. “These results are encouraging and warrant further research.”
The authors analyzed retrospectively health records from IQVIA Medical Research Data UK (formerly known as the THIN database). They identified men aged 40 and older who received a new diagnosis of erectile dysfunction between 2000 and 2017.
They excluded men with a prior diagnosis of dementia, cognitive impairment, confusion or prescriptions for treatment of dementia symptoms.
The study included 269,725 subjects. There were 1,119 newly diagnosed subjects with Alzheimer’s disease during a median follow-up of 5.1 years.
Among the subjects treated with erectile dysfunction drugs, 749 developed Alzheimer’s disease, which is a rate of 8.1 cases per 10,000 person-years.
Among those who did not take Alzheimer’s disease drugs, 370 developed Alzheimer’s disease, which is a rate of 9.7 cases per 10,000 person-years.
When the investigators adjusted the findings for other factors that could affect the rate of Alzheimer’s disease onset (age, smoking and alcohol consumption), they noted that users of erectile dysfunction drugs were 18% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-users.
Also, the reduction in Alzheimer’s risk was greatest among subjects issued the most prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs during of the study.
“More research is needed to confirm these findings, learn more about the potential benefits and mechanisms of these drugs and look into the optimal dosage,” Brauer said. “A randomized, controlled trial with both male and female participants is warranted to determine whether these findings would apply to women as well.”