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Sildenafil in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension

Authors Christopher F Barnett, Roberto F Machado

Published 15 December 2006 Volume 2006:2(4) Pages 411—422


Christopher F Barnett1,2, Roberto F Machado1,2

1Critical Care Medicine Department, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA; 2Vascular Medicine Branch, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Abstract: The therapy of pulmonary hypertension has evolved rapidly in the last 10 years from the use of non-selective vasodilators to drugs that specifically target pulmonary vasodilation, endothelial function, and vascular remodeling. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor that has an expanding role in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. Case series and small studies, as well as the first large randomized controlled trial, have  demonstrated the safety and efficacy of sildenafil in improving mean pulmonary artery pressure, pulmonary vascular resistance, cardiac index, and exercise tolerance in pulmonary arterial hypertension. It may be useful in adults, children, and neonates after cardiac surgery, with left heart failure, in fibrotic pulmonary disease, high altitude exposure, and thromboembolic disease, and in combination with other therapies for pulmonary hypertension, such as inhaled iloprost. The oral formulation and favorable adverse effect profile make sildenafil an attractive alternative in the treatment of selected patients with pulmonary hypertension.

Keywords: sildenafil, phosphodiesterase inhibitor, pulmonary hypertension, right heart failure

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