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Sildenafil Citrate for the Prevention of High Altitude Hypoxic Pulmonary Hypertension: Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matt Bates


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Bates, Matthew G. D., A. A. Roger Thompson, Kenneth Baillie, Andrew I. Sutherland, John B. Irving, NikhillHirani, and David J. Webb. Sildenafil citrate for the prevention of high altitude hypoxic pulmonary hypertension: double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. High Alt. Med. Biol. 12: 207-214.-Exaggerated hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction is a key factor in the development of high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Due to its effectiveness as a pulmonary vasodilator, sildenafil has been proposed as a prophylactic agent against HAPE. By conducting a parallel-group double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, we investigated the effect of chronic sildenafil administration on pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) and symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) during acclimatization to high altitude. Sixty-two healthy lowland volunteers (36 male; median age 21 years, range 18 to 31) on the Apex 2 research expedition were flown to La Paz, Bolivia (3650 m), and after 4-5 days acclimatization ascended over 90 min to 5200 m. The treatment group (n = 20) received 50 mg sildenafil citrate three times daily. PASP was recorded by echocardiography at sea level and within 6 h, 3 days, and 1 week at 5200 m. AMS was assessed daily using the Lake Louise Consensus symptom score. On intention-to-treat analysis, there was no significant difference in PASP at 5200 m between sildenafil and placebo groups. Median AMS score on Day 2 at 5200 m was significantly higher in the sildenafil group (placebo 4.0, sildenafil 6.5; p = 0.004) but there was no difference in prevalence of AMS between groups. Sildenafil administration did not affect PASP in healthy lowland subjects at 5200 m but AMS was significantly more severe on Day 2 at 5200 m with sildenafil. Our data do not support routine prophylactic use of sildenafil to reduce PASP at high altitude in healthy subjects with no history of HAPE.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bates MGD, Thompson AAR, Baillie JK, Sutherland AI, Irving JB, Hirani N, Webb DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: High Altitude Medicine and Biology

Year: 2011

Volume: 12

Issue: 3

Pages: 207-214

Print publication date: 30/09/2011

ISSN (print): 1527-0297

ISSN (electronic): 1557-8682

Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers


DOI: 10.1089/ham.2011.0007


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