Stents coated in Viagra could prevent dangerous blood clots

11 Jul 20177 Shares

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Illustration of a stent in an artery. Image: crystal light/Shutterstock

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A novel solution to prevent blood clots developing after a stent is placed has come in the form of Viagra.

For those living with cardiac conditions or at risk of heart attacks, getting a stent placed is a common treatment to keep arteries open and continually flowing with blood.

However, these stents – particularly traditional bare metal stents – can sometimes lead to a condition known as restenosis, which causes excessive skin growth in the arteries, leading to them narrowing or becoming blocked again.

While researchers have worked on methods of detecting when or if restenosis will occur, new research from Seoul National University Hospital, published by the American Heart Association, has found a way to possibly prevent it from developing in the first place.

Traditionally, drug-eluting stents coated with medications can help prevent this re-narrowing, but they can create further complications in the form of a blood clot near the stent soon after the procedure has finished.

In their paper, Han-Mo Yang and his fellow researchers believe that simply coating the stent with the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra could significantly reduce the chances of these blood clots developing.

In the team’s studies, the drug sildenafil (sold as Viagra) showed potential in reducing both restenosis and blood clot formation, and would continue its original purpose as an experimental treatment for high blood pressure.

As many will know, the erectile dysfunction properties of the drug were not expected during its design and since then, it has become one of the most popular and well-known drugs on the market.

Next up, human trials

During testing with mice, the drug was found to reduce the clumping of blood platelets by as much as 30pc.

“If similar results are found in clinical trials, sildenafil could be an ideal drug for coating drug-eluting stents or to give orally after stent implantation,” said Yang.

There is still some way to go before it could be widely used but, with a few clinical trials and conclusive proof of its effectiveness, it could make it to the operating table.

“Our study is limited by involving only animals,” Yang said.

“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.”

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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