This report, originally reported from the WSJ, suggests Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis can be helpful for screening for heart disease:
While erectile dysfunction has long been treated as a lifestyle issue, erection problems appear to be a very early warning sign of looming heart troubles. An Italian study showed that in two-thirds of patients who had known coronary-artery disease as well as erectile dysfunction, the erection problems showed up, on average, three years before other symptoms, such as the chest pain caused by angina.In addition:
The Archives of Internal Medicine (2006) reported on a study of nearly 4,000 Canadian men between the ages of 40 and 88 who were seen by primary-care doctors. The researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction were nearly 50% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome -- a collection of health risks that are associated with heart disease.
In med school we were taught this pneumonic for the causes of impotence (er, "ED"):
P - Psychologic
E - Endocrine
N - Neurologic
I - Ischemic (lack of oxygen due to vascular disease)
S - Substances (like alcohol, etc.)
So if your "little blue pill" doesn't work, realize that in half the cases it was because the drug was administered incorrectly, but you should also consider each of these other potential causes and review them with your doctor.
But is there a place for such a pill for women? Could we screen women in a similar fashion? Or perhaps, as in this story from close friends, might we shed light on another way ED drugs can screen for heart disease?
Recently we had a dinner party for several couples, one of whom had recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a weekend getaway at a famous romantic hotel here in the Chicago metro area called Sybaris. It was a surprise for the husband - his wife had arranged the weekend getaway secretly and anticipated the evening for weeks. She hinted to her husband that they would have plently of time to spend together and to come prepared for "fun and frolicking." Now as a typical guy, he suspected they were heading to some sleezey hotel for the weekend, and made sure he had a few Viagra thrown in his toiletry kit, "just in case."
Now imagine his surprise when they arrived - viewing the in-suite pool with waterfall and all the romantic accommodations - it made the Poconos seem like Holiday Inn and he was at the Ritz Carlton of romance! So they put away their bags, decided to take a swim (in the buff, of course) and relax. In anticipation of things to come, he took one of his Viagra tablets, grabbed the provided white robe, and snuck back to bed. Meanwhile, his wife suggested they get a romantic movie to enhance the evening - she sensed his anticipation, but wouldn't you know it - she had a rip-roaring headache. Honest to God! Why now?
Well Sybaris wisely has no phones in the rooms and no way to do a "pay-per-view" movie - you have to go back to the front desk and check out a video for your viewing pleasure. To say the walk back to the front desk was difficult for the husband some thirty minutes after taking the Viagra was an understatement! But he hobbled and perservered - after all, his love had requested a particularly racy title, and the embarassment was worth the risk....
Meanwhile, back in the room, his wife was rifling through her things, desperately trying to find an aspirin, ibuprofen (like Motrin or Advil) or Tylenol - to no avail. So, she decided to check her husband's toiletry kit, and voila, there were these little blue pills - she figured they must be Advil! So she took one and climbed into bed awaiting her husband's return.
Her husband returned from the front desk victorious and elated that he was not "noticed." He placed the video in the player and crept back in bed. His wife informed him of her headache, but knowing her from their many years together, he knew better than to ignore her complaint. So they settled in for the movie.
Then an amazing thing happened. As he laid there, his wife had a remarkable resolution of her headache and an unsatiable desire to make love to her husband. He was awestruck. It went on and on, he had never seen her like this before. What happened? Oh my God! Hallelujah! Whoa there little doggie! Their exertion would have burned up any stress test machine! On and on it went...
Finally, as they collapsed in exhaustion, he asked her what the hell happened? She explained that she'd found some Advil in his toiletry kit and her headache had resolved.
He told her that there was no Advil in there, just Viagra. She looked at him - "Really?" she said. And they laughed and laughed and each felt better that their stress test was negative.