The Pulse


Mar 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Researchers at London's Imperial College School of Medicine, working with researchers in the Kyrgyz Republic, are using VIAGRA to alleviate pulmonary hypertension, a factor in high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), the lethal condition in which the lungs fill with fluid as a result of lower oxygen levels at higher elevations. "The assumption is that if you can prevent pulmonary hypertension, you might offset or prevent the chances of edema," says researcher Martin Wilkins. "And Viagra can do that." But how? In addition to the, shall we say, helping hand that Viagra provides for men, the drug also relaxes blood vessels running to and from the lungs that might otherwise constrict in a low-oxygen environment. This doesn't make the pill an altitude-sickness cure-all. When it comes to preventing acute mountain sickness or high-altitude cerebral edema, "Viagra is unlikely to have any effect whatsoever," says Thomas Dietz, a doctor with the International Society for Mountain Medicine. Still, it may be good news for your lungs. And the doctors say mountaineers on Viagra won't have to worry about stretching out their snow pants—unless a particularly attractive female yeti happens by.

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