As a debilitating disease which destroys the muscles Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, also known as DMD is a genetic disorder. DMD affects mainly males, and it is characterized by extreme muscle fatigue and excessive muscle degeneration. The cause of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a lack of dystrophin in the body, which is the necessary protein that keeps the muscles in the body intact. The majority of patients develop the first signs of symptoms during the preschool years, or ages three to five, and symptoms grow increasingly severe as the teenage years are approached. By the time most young men (and a few women) are reaching adulthood the disease has already affected their heart and respiratory muscles.
A milder form of DMD, coined Becker muscular dystrophy is also apparent in males, appearing mainly in the teenage years. The progression of Becker DMD is slower, but also less predictable. Until recently the prognosis for patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy was grim, with many victims surviving only until their early twenties. The advancements in cardiac and respiratory care, as well as an increased development of medications to ease the symptoms of this rare genetic disease has lengthened the projected lifespan for patients with DMD. Many DMD sufferers live well into their forties and fifties, increasing the need for medical and pharmaceutical management for their symptoms.
The recent news advocating the use of ED medication for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, like Sildenafil and Tadalafil for treating blood flow problems in patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has led to cautious optimism among patients, practitioners and pharmacies.
Data released from a small trial involving males who were administered the phosphodiesterase inhibitors Sildenafil, also known as Viagra, and Tadalafil, known as the brand name Cialis proved to be encouraging and hopeful. The boys in the trial experienced a greater increase of blood flow to their muscles and much less muscle fatigue after exercising, post phosphodiesterase inhibitor administration. Sildenafil and Tadalafil clearly offered the symptom relief patients with DMD are yearning for. Results from this successful study are documented in the May 7 issue of Neurology online, which details the trial specifically. Of the ten boys enrolled in the aforementioned study all of the young men were able to walk in some capacity.
The boys, ages 8 to 13 were compared with ten healthy boys of the same ages. The blood flow in the boys was measured both during a handgrip exercise and at rest, before the administration of Sildenafil and Tadalafil commenced. After approximately two weeks of treatment with Sildenafil and Tadalafil the tests were repeated, but this time the results were surprising. After only two weeks of taking the phosphodiesterase inhibitors the boys with DMD demonstrated the same blood flow response during exercise as the boys who were healthy displayed. Study authors are seeking information to determine if long term use of medications like Sildenafil and Tadalafil can ultimately restore normal blood flow regulation, and potentially slow the progression of this virulent disease.
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