News Flash > Cardiovascular Health

 

Viagra Saving Children
 

Reported July 20, 2009


LAS VEGAS (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Heart disease kills a half a million people year. Now toddlers -- even infants -- are being treated for it, and some with a very grown-up drug. Viagra was first studied as a heart medication, and doctors are now getting back to its roots in the young population increasingly affected by a dangerous condition.

 

The little blue pill known to help erectile dysfunction is now helping children like Genevieve. She suffers from pulmonary hypertension -- lack of oxygen causes her to pass out.

"I just heard a smash on the floor," Sandra Hernandez, Genevieve's mother, told Ivanhoe. "I turned around and I looked, and she was face down on the floor."

"Ot doesn't allow enough oxygen into the bloodstream and then circulate to the rest of the body," James Swift, M.D., a pediatric intensive care physician at Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas, Nev., explained.

 

 

Typically, the only options are heart and lung transplants, but doctors use Viagra to open up the vessels.

"Nitric oxide was developed for these types of issues in the lungs, and one of the byproducts was, hey, this medication can also dilate blood vessels in other parts of the body and treat things like erectile dysfunction," Dr. Swift said.

Newborns can be put on Viagra. The risks include blindness, liver damage and upset stomach. It looks a little different than the little blue pill, and parents are skeptical at first about giving Viagra to their child.

"If we have a child who's in their teen years, they obviously go, 'Well, how do I explain this?'" Dr. Swift said.

"I was like, what?" Mike Cooper, Genevieve's father, told Ivanhoe. "They said yeah, the Viagra is due right now."

"We're just like, really? Viagra?" Sandra said. "But it's working!"

This is not a cure, but a treatment to bridge the gap for children until one is found.

Children who take Viagra will typically need to stay on it for their entire life. Dr. Swift believes the cure for pulmonary hypertension will involve gene therapy, where the gene that causes hypertension will be turned off in children with the condition.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Ashlee Seymour
Public Relations
Sunrise Children's Hospital
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 731-8288