MONDAY, June 18, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug Letairis (ambrisentan) to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare but life-threatening condition marked by continuous high blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs.
"Letairis represents a valuable addition to the treatment alternatives for this orphan disease," said Dr. John Jenkins, director of FDA's Office of New Drugs. "Letairis is similar to an existing drug, but offers the potential for fewer drug interactions."
In pulmonary arterial hypertension, the small arteries in the lungs become narrowed or blocked, so the heart must work harder to pump blood through them. Eventually, the overworked heart muscle may become weak and lose its ability to pump enough blood through the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, dizzy spells and fainting.
About 100,000 people in the United States have pulmonary arterial hypertension, the FDA said.
Visit the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to learn more about pulmonary arterial hypertension.