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Sildenafil Pulmonary Hypertension

Sildenafil Pulmonary Hypertension

What is sildenafil?

Sildenafil is an oral medication called a phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitor approved for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in World Health Organization (WHO) Group 1 patients. The goal of this therapy is to improve exercise ability and delay clinical worsening. Research studies showing the effectiveness of the medication included mostly patients with symptoms that were rated as WHO Functional Class II-III.Sildenafil is marketed as Revatio® for PAH and was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005. Sildenafil is also marketed as Viagra® which is FDA-approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction but not for the treatment of PAH.

How does sildenafil work?

PDE5 is a substance produced in the lungs and other parts of the body that breaks down another substance called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP). Cyclic GMP causes the blood vessels (arteries) to relax and widen. Sildenafil decreases the activity of PDE5, so that more cyclic GMP is available for the blood vessels inside the lungs. This leads to relaxation, or widening, of those vessels. Relaxing and widening of the blood vessels in the lungs decreases the pulmonary blood pressure to the heart and improves its function. This reduces blood pressure in the lungs which generally results in the ability to be more active. Research studies have verified this improvement.

How can a patient obtain sildenafil?

Sildenafil must be prescribed by a physician, and insurance approval must be obtained prior to starting therapy. It is carried by most retail and specialty pharmacies, including Accredo Health Inc., Aetna Specialty Pharmacy, CVS Caremark, Cigna Tel-Drug, CuraScript, Kaiser Permanente Specialty Pharmacy, Precision Rx, Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy (Medmark) and WellCare.

Other Information

Common adverse effects associated with Revatio include nose bleeds, flushing, headache, upset stomach,  difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, and nasal congestion. If severe adverse effects that include allergic reaction, convulsions, hearing loss, or edema occur, a doctor should be called immediately. The EC recommends that a maximum dose of 20 mg of Revatio three times a day is safe in children with PAH. However, in August 2012, the FDA warned against using Revatio in children.

Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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