Recent news from a professional soccer team in Bolivia has surprised the pharmaceutical community. Spain’s El Mundo reported in March of 2015 that the River Plate soccer team, hailing from Argentina, touted the use of Sildenafil to combat altitude sickness. Sildenafil Citrate, the erectile dysfunction therapy known also as Viagra, is certainly a unique remedy for fighting altitude sickness. The entire team was dosed with Sildenafil, alongside aspirin and caffeine to counteract bothersome and often debilitating symptoms when playing 12,100 feet above sea level. Players wanted to be certain to ward of possible signs of altitude sickness that could impede their game play, such as nausea, drowsiness and headaches. The prescription for Sildenafil for this off-label use is not the first, however. A high-level staff physician, Pedro Hansing, at the Millonarios stated that prophylactic treatment with Sildenafil is becoming quite common for many athletes faced with playing at high altitudes. In fact, information in the mid 2000’s, published by the American Physiological Society revealed that a study was completed involving cyclists and Sildenafil. After these cyclists were administered Sildenafil Citrate their performance output improved 45 percent and they exhibited a significant improvement in their cardiovascular performance. As Sildenafil is a drug used to enhance blood flow to specific body parts, the benefit of this therapy show improved exercise performance from an increased blood flow to the athlete’s lungs. Sildenafil improves blood flow from the heart and increases the oxygen transfer to muscles, hence the encouraging news for athletes in areas with high altitudes. As the oxygen levels decrease in these atmospheres the administration of Sildenafil to support the hard working muscles is beneficial.
Sildenafil is FDA approved to treat erectile dysfunction due to a medical condition or psychogenic reason. Some patients may also be given Sildenafil to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. With ED, or impotence affecting more than 140 million men around the globe the use of Sildenafil is vast. By Sildenafil inhibiting the phosphodiesterase-5 enzyme, which destroys Cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), this drug is successful at preventing the eventual destruction of cGMP.
Serious adverse reactions may occur from Sildenafil, however many patients experience little or no side effects. Reported side effects include flushing of the face, headaches, nausea and diarrhea.
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