Viagra May Help Prevent Blood Clots After Heart Stent Surgery

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Stent placement is an invasive but a quite common treatment option for heart attack or angina patients. Although the drug-eluting stents are being preferred these days to prevent the recurrence of blockage after stent surgery, but arteries can sometimes become blocked again. In rare cases, blood clots form around the stent, which may trigger a heart attack, stroke, or any other serious heart problem.

Patients implanted with drug-coated stents can heave a sigh of relief now as scientists in South Korea have found a cure for blood clots post stent surgery in an existing popular erectile dysfunction drug, called Viagra.

Known by the generic name Sildenafil, Viagra was initially used to treat hypertension, but today it is largely used for the treatment of impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED), a male sexual dysfunction which robs men of their ability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sex.

What is a heart stent? It is a bare metal device that goes into the arterial walls of the heart. This tiny mesh tube is surgically implanted to open arteries in the heart that are clogged. Drug-eluting stents are coated with a medication that is slowly released to keep the artery blockage from recurring.

Researchers at Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea now suggest that the immensely popular little blue pill can do more than helping men perk up their performance in the bedroom.

According to the researchers, heart stents could be laced with sildenafil to slash any risk of the complications like blood clots and the narrowing of arteries.

In a trial on rodents, the South Korean scientists examined the effects of stents coated with the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil on blood clotting in a group of mice, and found that the drug reduced the clumping of blood platelets by 30 percent and increased the action of enzyme protein kinase G (PKG), which inhibits artery walls from thickening.

Lead author Dr Han-Mo Yang, associate professor in the division of cardiology at Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea, said: “Our study is limited by involving only animals.

“If clinical trials show that sildenafil reduces restenosis after stent placement, it could be used in the clinical setting right away because the drug is already used in the real world for other purposes.”

Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, executive director of interventional cardiovascular programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center in Boston, has welcomed the study findings by saying: “This seems like a very interesting approach that could reduce both stent restenosis and stent thrombosis. If validated in large, randomized human trials, this could be a major advance. But those large-scale trials would be necessary before getting too excited.”

The preliminary research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2017 Scientific Sessions, held from July 10 to 13 in Portland, Oregon.

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