Viagra Shown to Help Mountain Climbers

The little blue pill known for helping men deal with erectile dysfunction, isn’t just performing in the bedroom.  A study shows Viagra can help those dealing with a specific breathing problem called pulmonary hypertension.  This disorder is commonly known as ‘climber’s lung’ because it can effect mountaineers as they reach high altitudes.

Pulmonary hypertension restricts blood vessels in the lungs, causing the heart to work overtime.  As the heart fails, the lungs can’t get enough oxygen through the body, making it hard for the patient to breathe.  The disorder, which can be fatal, is typically treated by an intravenous drug or through inhalation of a gas called nitric oxide.  But now there is an additional treatment showing promise: Viagra.

The study, which was conducted by the University of Giessen in Germany, ran tests on fourteen experienced climbers.  The average age of the volunteers was 36 years old.  Researchers took the group to the base camp at Mount Everest, where their exercise capacity was measured while on Viagra.  Similar tests were conducted at lower elevation levels as well. Researchers added Viagra to existing treatments and found it does help reduce the symptoms brought on by pulmonary hypertension.

Viagra is known to open blood vessels and arteries in the penis, and researchers say it does the same thing in the lungs of climbers. The best results were shows in patients that received a combination of therapies, but Viagra alone did lower the pressure in the lungs.

Researchers believe the study could lead to more positive uses for Viagra.  In fact, because of this study some German doctors are using Viagra to treat other problems like lung fibrosis.  The drug has helped about 400 patients that would otherwise be bedridden.

Researchers believe the study, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is just the first step to unlocking the medical potential of Viagra.

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