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Erectile dysfunction drug may benefit cardiac function in young patients with heart defects
Date:5/8/2012

Sildenafil, also known as the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, may give a boost to underdeveloped hearts in children and young adults with congenital heart defects. Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia report that sildenafil significantly improved echocardiographic measures of heart function in children and young adult survivors of single ventricle heart disease palliation.

"Although researchers will need to evaluate clinical benefits over a longer period with a larger number of patients, this finding offers a potential advance in the management of patients with these types of heart defects," said study leader David J. Goldberg, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The study appeared online recently in the journal Pediatric Cardiology.

The researchers randomly assigned 27 children and young adults at Children's Hospital to receive either sildenafil or a placebo for six weeks. After a six-week break in treatment, the subjects were switched to the opposite treatment course. The study team used echocardiograms to measure myocardial performance index (MPI), an indicator of the heart's overall ability to pump blood.

The patients in this double-blind, short-term study, who had a mean age of 14.9 years, had undergone a Fontan operation in early childhood, a mean of 11.3 years previously. The Fontan surgery redirects blood circulation in patients born with a severely underdeveloped ventricle, one of the heart's two pumping chambers. The operation is the third in a staged series of surgeries for life-threatening single-ventricle defects.

Although surgical advances over the past 20 years have dramatically improved survival for single-ventricle defects, patients with the condition continue to have long-term illness and risk of early death. The staged surgeries do not recreate normal heart circulation, but instead redirect blood flowing from the veins directly
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Contact: Joey McCool Ryan
McCool@email.chop.edu
267-426-6070
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Source:Eurekalert

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