Viagra could 'protect the hearts' of children whose mothers battle the deadly pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia suffered by Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey

April 9, 2019  21:35

Viagra could be used an unlikely treatment for women with the serious pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia, scientists claim.

The erection pill could be used to reduce blood pressure in women with a condition which raises it both them and their babies.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition which affects around one in every 16 mothers in the UK and increases the risk of pregnancy complications.

Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey famously suffered from the illness which, as well as raising blood pressure, can cause headaches and pain for the mother and raises the risk of the child having a stroke in later life.

Researchers from the University of Mississippi found taking sildenafil citrate – the active ingredient in Viagra – could protect the heart of unborn babies.

In research on rats they found that, when the animals were given sildenafil, their blood pressure rose less when they were exposed to stress created to mimic pre-eclampsia.

Traditional blood pressure drugs, or no treatment at all, did not manage to control the blood pressure as well, they found.

Children born to mothers with pre-eclampsia have a higher risk of serious illnesses like high blood pressure, kidney disease and stroke as they grow up.

Study leader and doctoral student Hannah Turbeville said: 'The ultimate goal of our work is to improve the long-term health of women and children affected by pre-eclampsia.

'There are limited guidelines for addressing the health risks to these groups.

'We hope not only to bring attention to these risks but also to propel research forward that will inform preventative interventions.'

In earlier research the same team found sildenafil could successfully treat pre-eclampsia while also decreasing blood pressure in unborn baby rats.

This study was designed to test how well the erection drug protected the mother and baby from stressors which increased blood pressure from the outside.

Ms Turbeville added: 'Our studies demonstrate the potential for targeted therapy of the nitric oxide pathway to improve the body's response to stressors in the later lives of children of women who experienced pre-eclampsia.

'This pathway plays an important role in improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.'

The researchers are now working to better understand the gender-specific response to sildenafil citrate.

The findings was presented at the American Physiological Society's annual meeting in Orlando, Florida this weekend.

Source: The Daily Mail

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