The US Government has licensed Sildenafil to trade under the name Revatio for treating pulmonary hypertension. The University Hospital in Giessen's pulmonary hypertension specialist Ardeschir Ghofrani has revealed that Sildenafil is the first drug that can be administered as a pill that has a positive effect in the lung's vessels. "It broadens the right vessels, helps good aeration and improves the intake of oxygen in the lungs", he said.
The drug can also help those who suffer from the milder form of high lung pressure or people with chronic bronchitis or lung fibrosis. This relaxation of the muscles in the blood vessels achieved by Sildenafil is not very different from the effects of other drugs used to treat pulmonary hypertension.
According to studies, it increases the stamina of patients and improves their quality of life. Yet that is just treating the symptoms. Doctors are pinning their hopes on other drugs, originally used in cancer treatment, for not only broadening the blood vessels, but also stopping the excessive growth of cells in the vessel walls.
Researchers are hopeful that the recent developments would help tackle the potentially lethal disorder. Pulmonary hypertension is a condition of high blood pressure in the lungs, which is caused when the thin blood vessels get blocked. It affects the blood circulation system, connecting the right heart chamber to the left chamber via the lungs.
As the right chamber of the heart has to struggle against the lung's narrow blood vessels, thus creating pressure, death from heart failure is the most common result. In contrast to high blood pressure in the main respiratory system, pulmonary hypertension is not caused by the hardening of the arteries. Instead, the muscles in the artery walls grow into the vessels in an uncontrolled manner.
"In terms of molecular biology, it has more in common with tumor conditions," explains professor Marius Hoeper of the Medical University in Hanover.