viagra

Viagra for Raynaud’s

Last year, when my Raynaud’s symptoms first became truly severe, my rheumatologist said that we could try “sildenafil.” He said it might help improve my circulation enough to heal my wounds (arterial ulcers) and prevent infection and amputation in the long term. Given that context, and the possibility of relief from pain, I said, “okay” and went home to research my new medication.

Well, sildenafil is from the same family as Viagra, a family of drugs called “phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors.” The 100 mg dose is for erectile dysfunction. The 20 mg dose taken 1-3 times daily is for folks with pulmonary hypertension, and is also used for severe cases of Raynauds that are resistant to other therapies. It is a potent vasodilator and improves circulation by opening up the blood vessels. Studies have shown that arterial ulcers may be more likely to heal with this treatment (see http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/112/19/2980.full for the full journal article).

Insurance companies do not like this drug. Vanessa, the nurse from my doctor’s office, spent several hours on hold with my insurance company to explain that this drug was cheaper than infection and amputation. I eventually got approval, but it took more than a month of calling and faxing.




Meanwhile, my hands hurt. Really hurt. I told my coworkers about how I was waiting to get approval to take Viagra for my hands, and they laughingly warned me to “come right in if your fingers are stiff for more than 4 hours.” Unknown to me, however, is that they pooled more than a hundred dollars together and went across to Mexico to pick up a prescription of Viagra for me, one of the benefits of living on the border. I bought myself a pill cutter, cut the 100 mg Viagra tablet into quarters because my dose was supposed to be 20 mg, swallowed the little blue quarter-pill, and waited to see what would happen.

My always-blue hands turned pink! It was amazing and the response occurred within 15 mins. Initially, getting blood flow into almost-dead, wounded tissue hurts a lot too, but the knowledge that things are finally going in the right direction makes it worth it. I think taking this medication kept me in my job in the ICU longer than I could have managed without it. And of course, having great friends like the ones that crossed the border to get the medication I needed is invaluable.

Now that the insurance company has finally approved my prescription, I have been taking 20 mg of generic sildenafil, and what I have noticed in retrospect is that the brand name Viagra seems more effective than the generic version for people that are really sick. The Viagra broken in quarters would last longer and kept my hands pink, whereas the generic sildenafil 20 mg did not make as much difference, and I had to take three doses a day to have some benefit. It still helps, but it just does not seem as potent.

Since starting Kyani Nitro, I do not need as much sildenafil, but I still take it twice a day during the winter, and I do find that it helps. It can lower your blood pressure, just like any other vasodilator, but I did not find that it affected my blood pressure significantly.

Keep in mind that taking sildenafil, and any other vasodilator, certainly requires monitoring from a physician. Together, we’ve watched my blood pressure, monitored for interactions with other drugs, and adjusted my dose to reach a therapeutic level. If you have Raynaud’s, sildenafil is worth asking your doctor about.



'Viagra for Raynaud’s' has 1 comment

  1. December 24, 2015 @ 7:58 am Vitamin E Oil For Raynaud’s |

    […] read a lot of clinical research articles after my rheumatologist introduced me to Sildenafil because the article that explained the usefulness of Sildenafil also talked about other therapies I […]

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