Cyclophosphamide. Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), an immunosuppressive drug, may be effective for preventing lung deterioration and is the important medication for treating pulmonary fibrosis, particularly when given early in the course of the disease.
Use of this drug may improve survival in patients who show early signs of lung deterioration, notably inflammation in the small lung airways (alveolitis). The drug is not recommended for patents with existing stable pulmonary fibrosis and no signs of inflammation.
Other Treatments. Lung transplantation may offer hope for people with advanced pulmonary hypertension or interstitial fibrosis that does not respond to conservative treatments.
Several types of drugs are used to treat pulmonary hypertension. Anticoagulants taken by mouth, such as warfarin (Coumadin), are a standard treatment used to prevent blood clots from forming. Diuretic treatment and supplemental oxygen are recommended for patients with fluid retention and low blood oxygen, respectively.
Vasodilators help open blood vessels and relieve pressure in arteries of the lungs. Vasodilators used to treat pulmonary hypertension fall into several different drug classes:
Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs). Some patients with pulmonary hypertension benefit from these drugs. They help relax blood vessels in the heart and lungs, and increase the supply of oxygen. However, calcium channel blockers are only appropriate for patients who meet certain diagnostic criteria, including those who don't have right-sided heart failure. Long-acting nifedipine, diltiazem, or amlodipine are the preferred calcium channel blockers.
Prostacyclins (Prostaglandins). Prostacyclins, which open blood vessels, are now the primary agents for treating pulmonary hypertension.
Endothelin Receptor Antagonists. Bosentan (Tracleer) was the first drug taken by mouth that was approved for pulmonary hypertension. Bosentan controls endothelin, a powerful substance that causes blood vessels to narrow. Studies have reported improved exercise capacity in patients with pulmonary hypertension. Sitaxsentan and ambrisentan (Letairis) are two new drugs being studied.
PDE5 Inhibitors. Sildenafil (Revatio) was approved in 2005 as the first pill for patients with early-stage pulmonary hypertension. Sildenafil is the same medication contained in the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. However, Revatio is prescribed at a lower dosage than Viagra, and is a different color and shape than Viagra pills.
Other Treatments. Lung transplantation may offer hope for people with advanced pulmonary hypertension that does not respond to conservative measures.
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