When used in addition to other treatments, the erectile dysfunction drug tadalafil (marketed as Cialis, also known as the "weekend pill") is effective and well tolerated in the treatment of secondary Raynaud's phenomenon, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology's Annual Scientific Meeting.
In Raynaud's phenomenon, blood vessels narrow abnormally when exposed to cold, leading to decreased blood supply to the hands and feet. Typically, Raynaud's phenomenon results in episodic attacks where the fingers turn white and blue and burn, tingle, turn red, throb, go numb, or swell. Primary Raynaud's phenomenon affects up to 5 percent of the general population. Secondary Raynaud's phenomenon is less common than primary, but is considered more serious because the constriction of blood vessels occurs also in the internal organs.
The researchers studied the effectiveness and tolerability of tadalafil as an additional therapy to treat patients with secondary Raynaud's phenomenon who had not successfully responded to treatment with vasodilators — a common treatment that relaxes the smooth muscles in blood vessels.
The researchers found that, when taking tadalafil, the average daily frequency and duration of Raynaud's episodes experienced by patients were less: 2.23 episodes versus 3.36 for the untreated subjects. Additionally, the patients' overall assessments significantly improved while they were taking tadalafil, and no serious side effects were reported.
"This research has proven the excellent efficacy of tadalafil in the treatment of the Raynaud's phenomenon and ischemic ulcers secondary to it," explains Padmanabha Shenoy, the lead investigator in the study. "This study also generates a new hope in the treatment of scleroderma, which is currently incurable. It has to be seen in further studies whether tadalafil can improve survival in scleroderma patients."
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Source: American College of Rheumatology