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Viagra (Sildenafil citrate), which millions of men take for erectile dysfunction (ED), reduces the effects of hormonal stress on the heart by half, according to a study published online in the journal Circulation.

Viagra causes genital blood vessels to expand, which helps in maintaining an erection. Recent research also has pointed to its potential usefulness in treating pulmonary hypertension. Prior to the latest findings by a team of Johns Hopkins researchers, it was thought to have little effect on the heart.

Viagra, or sildenafil, blunts the strengthened heart beat caused by chemically induced stress, according to study senior author and cardiologist David Kass, MD, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute. It thereby lessens both the excess amount of blood and the force used to pump it to the body.