News Tuesday March 8, 2011

Viagra helped woman with Raynaud’s syndrome

A woman with Raynaud's syndrome, a rare condition that causes blood vessels to constrict in cold weather, has spoken about how the erectile dysfunction medication Viagra helped to ease her symptoms.

Anne Mawdsley, aged 68, suffered for years with the disease, before taking part in a clinical trial involving Viagra at the Royal Free Hospital. "I had to smile when I was offered Viagra, but by that stage I was so desperate I would have tried anything," she told the Daily Mail.

Although the numbness and pain in her hands did not disappear completely when she took Viagra, it did become less severe, and she can now use her hands for everyday tasks like typing again. Professor Denton at the Royal Free Hospital says this is an "off duty" use for the impotence treatment. "The drug is not licensed for this purpose," he added.

"Viagra would be reserved for treating patients with the most severe types of Raynaud's and/or scleroderma who had already tried more conventional treatments — we're not advocating it for everyone."

Viagra contains sildenafil which helps to open up constricted blood vessels. This means the drug can treat erectile dysfunction, but doctors have also found that it can help other conditions, including pulmonary hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure in the lungs).

The medication is currently being given to Raynaud's patients on a case by case, trial basis, and doctors in the UK must apply to their primary care trust to issue the treatment.

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