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    Statins show significant benefit in men with erectile dysfunction

    Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are associated with a significant improvement in erectile function, cardiologists reported in a new meta-analysis.

    Researchers say they hope the finding, presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session in Washington last week, will encourage men who need statins to reduce their risk of heart attack to take them.

    The study has also been published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (March 29, 2014).

    Previous research has suggested a negative association between statin therapy and testosterone levels, according to the authors, leading to questions about the effects of the widely used drugs on the quality of erection.

    In the first meta-analysis of previous studies on erectile dysfunction and statins, researchers identified 11 randomized, controlled trials that measured erectile function using the International Inventory of Erectile Function. Analysis of all 11 studies combined found a statistically significant effect of statins on erectile function in men who had both high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. Overall, erectile function scores increased by 3.4 points in men who took statins (from 14.0 to 17.4, a 24.3% increase).

    “The increase in erectile function scores with statins was approximately one-third to one-half of what has been reported with drugs like Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra,” said lead investigator John B. Kostis, MD, of the Cardiovascular Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ.

    “It was larger than the reported effect of lifestyle modification,” Dr. Kostis said. “For men with erectile dysfunction who need statins to control cholesterol, this may be an extra benefit.”

    Researchers believe that statins may work to improve erectile function by helping blood vessels dilate properly and improving vascular blood flow to the penis, which is often restricted in men with erectile dysfunction. While statins are not recommended as a primary treatment for erectile dysfunction in patients with healthy cholesterol levels, the added benefit may encourage more men who need statins to take them and might improve adherence to statin therapy, Dr. Kostis said.

    He said larger randomized controlled trials are needed to further investigate the link between statin therapy and erectile function.

    Dr. Kostis has received consulting fees/honoraria from Aegerion, Palatin, and Sanofi, and is on the speaker’s bureau for Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amarin, and Pfizer.

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