About sildenafil for pulmonary hypertension
|Type of medicine||Vasodilator antihypertensive medicine|
|Used for||Pulmonary hypertension|
|Available as||Tablets and injection|
Primary pulmonary hypertension is a rare condition where there is too high a blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply your lungs from your heart.
Sildenafil relaxes the muscle cells in the walls of the blood vessels to your lungs, allowing them to become wider (dilated). This reduces the pressure in these blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily through them. In turn, this increases the supply of blood to your lungs and reduces the strain on your heart.
Another brand of sildenafil tablets called Viagra® is used in men for a completely different condition called erectile dysfunction. There is another medicine leaflet called 'Sildenafil for erectile dysfunction' which gives more information about this.
Before taking sildenafil
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking sildenafil it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any other heart or blood vessel disease.
- If you have low blood pressure.
- If you have a condition which causes bleeding, such as a stomach ulcer.
- If you have had an eye condition causing loss of vision.
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have had a stroke or a heart attack.
- If you have any disease, injury or deformity of your penis.
- If you have sickle cell disease.
- If you have ever had bone marrow cancer or leukaemia.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines. It is important that your doctor knows if you are using a medicine prescribed for angina pain, or if you are using a 'nitrite' drug (such as in the recreational drug known as 'poppers').
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
How to take sildenafil for pulmonary hypertension
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about Revatio®, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take these tablets exactly as your doctor has told you. It is usual for adults to take one tablet three times each day (6-8 hours apart), but your doctor will tell you what dose is right for you. Your dose will also be on the label of the pack to remind you.
- Try to take your doses at the same times each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. You can take sildenafil tablets before, during or after meals.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose and then continue as normal). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Do not drink grapefruit juice with sildenafil. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of sildenafil in your bloodstream. This makes side-effects more likely.
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- Keep taking these tablets until your doctor tells you otherwise. Stopping suddenly can cause problems and your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking sildenafil.
- Each time you collect a new supply of this medicine from your pharmacy, make sure it looks to be the same as you have had before. If you are unsure, ask your pharmacist to check for you.
- You should avoid getting pregnant while taking sildenafil. If this affects you, make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with sildenafil.
Can sildenafil cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common sildenafil side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
|Indigestion, stomach discomfort||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Eyesight problems, feeling dizzy||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. If the problems with your eyesight start suddenly or continue, speak with your doctor for advice|
|Cough, cold and flu-like infections, high temperature, muscle aches and pains, flushing, swollen feet or ankles, difficulties sleeping, feeling anxious, tingling skin or burning sensations, feeling shaky, vertigo (a spinning sensation), hair loss||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice|
Important: if you experience any of the following, get medical attention straightaway:
- Sudden problems with your hearing or eyesight.
- If you have an erection lasting for four hours or more.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store sildenafil
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Revatio® 20 mg film-coated tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Revatio® 20 mg film-coated tablets, Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2012.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Prof Cathy Jackson|
|Last Checked: 19/07/2012||Document ID: 13918 Version: 1||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.