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Viagra Protects Against Pulmonary Problems

Helps with altitude-induced hypertension, researchers say

TUESDAY, Feb. 1, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Viagra, commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction, may also protect men against altitude-induced pulmonary problems, according to a French study in the February issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

It concluded the drug protected against development of high altitude-induced pulmonary hypertension, improved pulmonary gas exchange and limited altitude-induced hypoxemia (deficient oxygenation of the blood).

The study included 12 men, average age 29, who were exposed for six days to the physiologic effects of an altitude of 14,355 feet (4,350 meters). Six of the men took 40 milligrams of Viagra (sildenafil) a day while the six men in the control group took a placebo.

"The main observed effect of sildenafil involved suppression of the hypoxia-induced increase in pulmonary artery pressure, which came as a direct result of an increase in blood oxygenation," study author Dr. Jean-Paul Richalet said in a prepared statement.

"No adverse effects from sildenafil such as systemic hypotension or alteration in color vision were noticed. Only minor adverse effects, including muscle pain and breathlessness, were recorded. Lastly, sildenafil reduced the hypoxia-induced decrease in exercise performance and did not interfere with acclimatization," Richalet said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has information about acute mountain sickness.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Feb. 1, 2005
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