Objectives: To evaluate the effect of long-term oral therapy with sildenafil in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension receiving long-term IV epoprostenol.
Design: Open, uncontrolled trial.
Setting: University hospital.
Patients: Two patients with primary pulmonary hypertension and one patient with pulmonary arterial hypertension after surgical closure of an atrial septal defect. All patients were receiving continuous epoprostenol for 1.7 to 7.1 years; two patients also received inhaled iloprost for 1.8 years and 3.8 years, respectively.
Interventions: Addition of oral sildenafil, up to 200 mg/d, divided in four to six single doses, and hemodynamic measurements and the 6-min walking distance (6MWD) before and after 5 months of treatment with sildenafil.
Results: One patient was treated with sildenafil, 200 mg/d; two patients received 75 mg/d due to nausea and headache. Long-term treatment with sildenafil in the three patients reduced mean pulmonary artery pressure by 14%, 41%, and 22%, respectively; in two patients, pulmonary vascular resistance was decreased by 52% and 55%. The 6MWD increased by 34%, 6%, and 29%, respectively. No significant systemic hypotension or decrease of arterial oxygen saturation was seen.
Conclusion: Sildenafil therapy may be of benefit in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension receiving long-term infusion of epoprostenol.