If you have pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), you may benefit from Adcirca. Using this prescription medication can help people with PAH to improve their ability to exercise. It works by blocking a certain enzyme in the lungs, which causes the blood vessels in the lungs to stay relaxed to improve blood flow. This drug is approved only for use in adults age 18 and older.
What Is Adcirca Used For?
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is high blood pressure in the vessels that carry blood to the lungs. These vessels are called the pulmonary arteries. When these arteries become too narrow or stiff, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through them. As the heart works harder, it begins to enlarge. An enlarged heart cannot work as effectively, and eventually heart failure may occur.
PAH is a serious condition that can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated.
There are many causes of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Sometimes, the cause is not known. When the cause is known, it can be due to one of the following:
- Medications or illegal drugs, such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, or cocaine
- Diseases of the connective tissue, such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, or systemic lupus erythematosus
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Congenital heart disease.
Early in the disease, some people may not have any symptoms at all. Others may have symptoms only during times of physical activity or exercise. The early symptoms of PAH may include:
- Shortness of breath during exercise or activity
- Lack of energy
As the disease progresses, symptoms often become more severe. Later symptoms of PAH may include:
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling or edema of the lower legs, ankles, or feet.
Most of the symptoms of PAH make it difficult to exercise or take part in physical activity. Adcirca can reduce these symptoms and help improve the ability to exercise.
Currently, there is no cure for PAH. Treatment is usually aimed at the underlying cause, when a cause is known. In addition, treatment is used to relieve symptoms of the disease.
Treatment to improve symptoms may include the following:
- Oxygen -- to treat shortness of breath
- Diuretics (such as furosemide) -- to reduce fluid accumulation and swelling
- Warfarin or other anticoagulant medications -- to reduce the risk of a blood clot
- Digoxin -- to help the heart work more efficiently
- Exercise -- to improve endurance.
Other treatment is used to dilate or expand the pulmonary arteries, making it easier for the heart to pump blood through them. Adcirca falls under this type of treatment. Other medications that help to open up the blood vessels in the lungs include:
- Flolan® (epoprostenol)
- Letairis™ (ambrisentan)
- Tracleer® (bosentan)
- Remodulin® (treprostinil)
- Ventavis® (iloprost)
- Tyvaso® (treprostinil)
- Revatio® (sildenafil).