Breathing improved for some taking sildenafil marketed as Revatio, study finds
TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- People with a serious lung disease that causes progressive scarring of the lung tissue might get some relief from sildenafil, the drug used in Viagra, a new study finds.
The disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, causes the lungs to become increasingly thick and stiff, reducing the ability to breathe. There's no known cause, and there's little in the way of treatment, researchers say. Most people with the disease live just three to five years after diagnosis.
"There are about 150,000 patients in the United States and about 5 million worldwide with the disease," said lead researcher, Dr. David A. Zisman, from the Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif. He cited Jerry Lewis, Evel Knievel and Robert Goulet as celebrities who had the disease, which he said has "no proven therapy, except lung transplantation, and survival is quite limited."
His research team decided to try treatment with sildenafil because the disease usually causes constriction of the blood vessels in the lungs, and sildenafil expands these vessels, Zisman said.
They randomly assigned 180 men and women with advanced pulmonary fibrosis to take 20 milligrams of sildenafil (sold as Revatio) or a placebo for 12 weeks; Viagra is sold in dosages starting at 25 milligrams. They found little difference in the main point being assessed, with 10 percent of those taking sidenafil and 7 percent of the others recording a 20 percent or greater improvement in the distance they could walk in six minutes.
However, some people taking sildenafil were able to breathe more easily and did show an improvement in their quality of life, the researchers found.
A report on the study, which was funded in part by Pfizer, which markets Revatio, was published online May 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide wit
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