This health video explores new ways of stopping Pulmonary Hypertension.
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Jennifer Matthews: For nine weeks, Tammy Russell has been here at the bedside of her 15-year-old son, Kyle. Kyle loves the beach and vacations. But like many children with Down Syndrome, heart problems slow him down. This is his third time in the hospital for heart surgery. Tammy Russell: Right now, my big hope is just to get him home. Jennifer Matthews: Kyle takes many drugs to help him recover. Now, he's in a study to see if Viagra could also help. Doctor Mary Taylor is studying whether Viagra can help children with pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Mary Taylor: Many children die with pulmonary hypertension that is irreversible, and until now, we have not really had any options or medications to send them home on. Jennifer Matthews: Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the blood pressure rises inside the lungs making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. Dr. Mary Taylor: Viagra works by helping the blood vessels dilate or relax. Jennifer Matthews: The treatment has been successful in adults and in several babies with the condition. Dr. Mary Taylor: We are hoping that using it over the course of months that the blood vessels will remodel and relax and allow the pulmonary hypertension to reverse. Jennifer Matthews: In the current study, Viagra or a Placebo is given through an IV to patients for 24 hours after heart surgery to see how the body responds. Tammy Russell: The sad thing is research is the only way to find out if something works, and somebody has got to participate. If nothing else, maybe one day I can look back and say, 'Hey we helped do that.' Jennifer Matthews: It's what keeps Tammy strong as her son struggles with his weak heart. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.