Sildenafil can help stroke patients
Sildenafil, the male impotence drug, may restore function in another part of the body: the brain. A team of researchers reported that this drug triggers the growth of new brain cells and blood vessels thus causing animals with stroke to regain muscle function and coordination.
Sildenafil is a drug that has helped many men suffering with erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to get an erection, sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity. This drug helps a man who is sexually aroused to get and maintain an erection by increasing the blood flow to the penis.
The researchers at Henry Ford Health Science Centre in Detroit, Michigan, experimentally induced stroke in rats by temporarily blocking the blood flow to blood vessels in the brain. The animals then received either no treatment or 2 mg or 5 mg Sildenafil a day for 6 days. After a month, the investigators found growth of new cells in the rats' brains. Untreated animals had minimal growth (177.94 sq mm), those receiving the 2 mg dose had greater cell growth (237.27 sq mm) and those receiving the 5 mg dose had significantly greater growth (541.02 sq mm).
The team of researchers also found new blood vessel growth and an increase in the number of synapses, which allow brain cells to communicate with each other. The animals demonstrated improvement in their ability to walk and improved coordination. The treated animals also gained more weight than untreated animals. Sildenafil did not reduce the size of the damaged area, but the growth of new cells adjacent to the damaged region and changes in other areas show that the brain may compensate for the injury. The findings provide strong evidence that Sildenafil can help stroke patients.
American Stroke Association's 27th International Stroke Conference February 2002
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