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Could Viagra Help People with Asthma?

Sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra, is also prescribed to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. Preliminary research indicates that it might also help to relieve the symptoms of asthma.

Prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction, PDE5 inhibitors, such as Viagra and Cialis, are so called because they temporarily sideline the phosphodiesterase-5 enzyme, which breaks down a substance known as cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP.

This cGMP plays a key role in the erection process by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue that forms the inner lining of arteries that supply the penis, thus allowing these blood vessels to expand and increase blood flow.

Sildenafil Also Treats PAH

Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, is also prescribed for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH, which is essentially high blood pressure targeting the lungs and making it difficult to breathe.

A team of physiology researchers affiliated with the Jordan University of Science & Technology in Irbid, Jordan, recently conducted a small-scale trial to see what, if any, effect sildenafil would have on an asthmatic patient.

Earlier animal studies had shown that sildenafil helped to improve respiratory function in animal models of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Jordanians Treat Asthmatic Patient

The Jordanian researchers recruited a 42-year-old dry cleaning worker who had been suffering from asthma for some time. Off bronchodilators for at least three days before testing, the study participant’s lung function was thoroughly assessed before and after multiple treatments with sildenafil.

He showed moderate improvements in respiratory function in all such tests after treatment with sildenafil.

The researchers suggested that these positive results should provide the basis for broader clinical testing to better understand sildenafil’s benefits in the treatment of asthma. Other researchers have focused on the development of drugs to temporarily disable other phosphodiesterase enzymes related to PDE5, which might be even more effective in treating asthma.

The Jordanian team published their findings from this study in the June 2017 issue of Breathe.

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