Backed by the Food and Drug Administration and millions of positive consumer feedback, Viagra is no doubt the single most revolutionary male sexual performance enhancer of the century. It works, it’s safe, and it’s well-established as a successful treatment for erectile dysfunction—what more can it give?
As it turns out, a lot more. In the category of sexual performance enhancement, this little blue pill is proven to improve men’s ability to get erections, and achieve them harder and for a longer period of time. But did you know that this drug has also been shown to effectively treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, prevent and manage altitude sickness, and improve performance and stamina in sports?
Here’s how this wonder drug has more up its sleeve than most people recognize:
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a severe disease involving increased blood pressure in the lungs’ blood vessels. Those who suffer from it experience dizziness, shortness of breath, fainting and fatigue typically worsened by physical activity. So if it affects the lungs, where does the little blue pill come into the equation?
Well, as it turns out, the penis has more in common with the lungs than most people think. Like the penis, the blood vessels in the lungs have a high concentration of the enzyme known as PDE-5. To explain its action simply, the PDE-5 breaks down the substance that opens up the blood vessels. When the blood vessels open up less, there is also less blood flow. When this happens, the body attempts to compensate, and this leads to increased blood pressure in the vessels.
Sildenafil, the active component in Viagra, inhibits the action of PDE-5. In the penis, this opening up of blood vessels or vasodilation allows more blood flow, resulting to a satisfactory erection. In the lungs, this vasodilation results to a decreased pulmonary arterial pressure, resolving the problem of PAH.
Once approved for use as treatment for PAH, Pfizer repackaged sildenafil as Revatio to avoid confusing it with the little blue pill.
When people are exposed to high altitudes, the thinner air, lower air pressure, and lack of oxygen can cause fluid in the lungs’ blood vessels to leak out. This compromises oxygen exchange and is a life-threatening condition. To help solve this problem usually encountered by mountain climbers, researchers looked to the miracle blue pill’s magic. Basing on the same mechanism of action cited above for the treatment of PAH, sildenafil prevents altitude sickness by relaxing the blood vessels in the lungs. This allows blood to flow more freely through the lungs’ blood vessels, reducing the risk of fluid leaks that would otherwise interfere with oxygen exchange.
Performance and Stamina Boost in Sports
Out of the bedroom and into the sports arena—this little blue pill sure is fast expanding its scope of use. The Journal of Applied Physiology has published reports of trials that showed sildenafil effectively improving cardiovascular and exercise performances of athletes in simulated high altitude environments. The physiology behind this effect is simple—the effect sildenafil has in expanding the blood vessels improves blood flow to the muscles, providing more oxygen and thus more energy and stamina to the body. This makes Viagra a most promising drug not only for its numerous uses in medicine, but also its potentials in the non-medical field.