Viagra to treat Pulmonary Hypertension

The drug once used for erectile dysfunction (ED) and seen on commercials known as Viagra is now being used for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. I noticed this practice when I began taking care of LVAD patients. These patients implanted with LVADs which stands for Left Ventricular Assist Device(picture below) were implanted due to severe heart failure.

According to MayoClinic, pulmonary hypertension is a type of blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and in the heart. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include: shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pressure. Viagra is now marketed as Revatio to treat pulmonary hypertension.

The mechanism of action for Revatio is relaxing the muscles found in the walls of the blood vessels which increasing blood flow. Common side effects include: insomnia, epistaxis (nose bleed), and rhinitis (runny nose). The dosage for this medication is either 5mg or 20mg three times a day by mouth.

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