Viagra Helps COPD Patients Control Pulmonary Blood Pressure

|

The drug sildenafil, popularly known as Viagra, may help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease control the illness-related blood pressure spikes in the heart's pulmonary artery, a new study found.

The medication, in addition to its use as a popular treatment for impotence, has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of the chronic version of such blood pressure spikes, known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The drug has been marketed specifically for this purpose under the trade name Revatio. Another drug -- bosentan -- is also approved for similar purposes.

The new research suggests that sildenafil may help all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients -- even those not diagnosed with full-blown PAH -- who experience potentially dangerous pulmonary arterial blood pressure increases both at rest and following exercise.

The research was led by Dr. Sebastiaan Holverda of the department of pulmonary medicine at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Holverda and his VU colleagues were to present their findings Wednesday at a Salt Lake City meeting organized by the journal Chest.

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is actually a catch-all for two lung diseases that often strike in tandem -- chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In both cases, airflow is obstructed, impeding normal breathing.

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, responsible for between 80 percent and 90 percent of all cases in the United States. More than 11 million Americans are estimated to have the illness, and more than 122,000 die from it each year. Women appear to be slightly more at risk than men.

There's no known cure for the disease, and medications primarily take aim at symptom relief and slowing the progressive disability the illness brings.

continue reading