Anti-cholesterol drugs known as statins may help impotent men have stronger erections, a new evidence review suggests.
But typical effects appear to be much smaller than those caused by Viagra-like drugs, and it may be barely noticeable to many men, an expert said.
Still, the findings — which need to be confirmed in future studies — raise the prospect that statin drugs may become more appealing to men with erectile dysfunction, according to the researchers. Many people fail to consistently take the cholesterol-lowering medications, which can cause side effects such as joint pain.
“This could be another reason to not stop the statin drugs, a kind of additional incremental benefit,” said report lead author Dr. John Kostis, director of the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. However, he cautioned that men with normal cholesterol levels shouldn’t take statins, and should rely on existing drugs for erectile dysfunction if needed.
Statins, which include well-known medications such as Lipitor and Zocor, are immensely popular in the United States. However, about half of men who take the drugs stop them after a year or two, Kostis said.
The drugs reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, potentially lowering the risk of heart attack.
The new report, a “meta-analysis,” examines the results of 14 studies that explored the connections between statins and erectile dysfunction. The investigators found that the drugs increased so-called “erectile function” by about 25 percent, more than the effect of testosterone treatment or changes in lifestyle including weight loss and exercise.
However, statins appeared to improve erections by only about a third or half as much as previously reported for impotency drugs like Viagra.
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