Plain Jane 311014: Why prescribing Viagra to all men over 50 could save NHS
GREAT discoveries, it seems, arise from a split second of blinding clarity falling at precisely the right juncture. James Watt may well have forged his fascination with steam as he observed the saucepan lid rise and fall on his mother’s pot of boiling cabbage, while Newton famously, upon feeling an apple clonk against his head, cleverly formed the theory of gravitation.
Clearly these were individuals of genius and, in the normal way, I would have said I were as capable of such brilliance as your average banana. Until last Monday when my own moment of divine realisation came, and in a life-jolting flash of illumination, I solved, in a stroke, the answer to the crisis in the NHS.
I was on BBC Radio Kent’s Breakfast show, with John Warnett and Maggie Doyle, wheeled on to review the papers. Charged with finding four stories on which to comment, I decided for my second slot, to take up the theme of health. The Daily Mail was screaming about “meltdown” in Wales; The Guardian brought the cheering news that there has been a 40% rise in liver disease in the last 12 years (blamed on alcohol consumption, of course) and the Daily Mirror had ground-breaking information to impart about Viagra. Not only, it transpires, does the drug perk a chap up in the downstairs department, but it can also help patients with dicky hearts.
A trial carried out in Italy found that an enzyme inhibitor contained in Viagra, prevented the heart increasing in size and changing shape in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy, and benefited those with other heart conditions too, while maintaining healthy blood pressure. “We found the main ingredient in Viagra can be an effective, safe treatment for heart disease,” summed up Dr Andrea Isidori from Sapienza University in Rome.
Do you see what this means? If every fellow over fifty were prescribed Viagra as a matter of course, heart disease, the country’s biggest killer might be a thing of the past. In addition all that bedroom activity would have a myriad of benefits. Having sex releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, so depression and anxiety could also be reduced (one of the most common reasons for time taken off work, and a huge clogger of the GP’s surgeries) and the massive drugs bill for anti-depressants and tranquilisers halved. And because everyone would be happier – this was presenter Maggie Doyle’s contribution and it’s a good one – they would drink less, relieving the pressure on essential medical services brought about by all those clapped-out livers.
I haven’t quite worked out how the health service would cope with the sudden groundswell of older, female patients with chronic headache syndrome, but I’m sure paracetamol is cheaper than a by-pass.
Pfizer, who make Viagra, could quadruple production, increasing employment (maybe even re-opening in Thanet) and providing beneficial knock-on effects to related industries (bed manufacturers, hair dye companies and makers of clothes-more-suited-to-the-younger-man. It is amazing what a spot of unexpected rumpy-pumpy can do to a chap’s view of what constitutes an appropriate wardrobe).
My final news story came from The Times, where the splendid Dame Judi Dench, now approaching 80, was explaining that she keeps her brain young and active by memorising a new poem each day. Maybe a small recital should be required upon the collection of each fresh prescription of the jolly blue pills – thus bolstering the nation’s grey cells and contributing to the fight against Dementia.
So there you’d have it. The NHS snatched back from the jaws of collapse, more money for flu jabs and a pleasing rise in the sale of poetry books. Jeremy Hunt eat your heart out. Perhaps with a small Viagra…