Sildenafil versus nitric oxide for acute vasodilator testing in pulmonary arterial hypertension

PVRI Member Authors: Werner Seeger, Ardeschir Ghofrani, Henning Gall


Vasoreactivity testing with inhaled NO is recommended for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) because of its therapeutic and prognostic value. Sildenafil has acute pulmonary vasodilating properties, but its diagnostic and prognostic impact in PAH is unknown. Our objective was to compare acute vasodilating responses to sildenafil and those to NO during right heart catheterization and also their prognostic values in patients with PAH. Ninety-nine patients with idiopathic PAH and 99 with associated PAH underwent vasoreactivity testing with NO and sildenafil. Only mild adverse effects of sildenafil, in the form of hypotension, were observed, at a rate of 4.5%. The acute responder rate was 8.1% for NO and 11.6% for sildenafil. The NO-induced response in mean pulmonary arterial pressure and cardiac output correlated with the response to sildenafil. Thirteen patients were long-term responders to calcium channel blockers (CCBs), and 3 of them were correctly identified by acute vasoreactivity test with both drugs. The specificity of the vasoreactivity test for identifying long-term CCB responders was 88.9% for NO and 85.1% for sildenafil testing. A trend toward better survival was found in sildenafil and NO responders, compared with nonresponders. Use of sildenafil for vasoreactivity testing is safe. Sildenafil may be useful as alternative vasoreactivity-testing agent, identifying the same number of long-term CCB responders as NO. However, NO seems to be a more ideal testing drug because of its pharmacologic properties. Moreover, sildenafil vasoreactivity testing might contribute to an improved estimate of prognosis among patients with PAH.

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Nitric Oxide and Nitric Oxide Synthase
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension


Katrin Milger, Janine F. Felix, Robert Voswinckel, Natascha Sommer, Oscar H. Franco, Friedrich Grimminger, Frank Reichenberger, Werner Seeger, Hossein A. Ghofrani, Henning Gall

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 2 cover image

June 2015

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 2

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