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Medicina (B Aires). 2015;75(4):258-61.

[Sildenafil and exercise performance at altitude].

[Article in Spanish]

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  • 1Instituto de Medicina del Deporte y Rehabilitaci√≥n de Futbolistas Argentinos Agremiados (IMDYR), Centro Cardiol√≥gico Salud, Buenos Aires, Argentina. E-mail:


Barometric pressure and partial oxygen pressure decrease with increasing altitude. Hypobaric hypoxia produced is responsible for altitude-related diseases and it can cause severe decrements in exercise performance. The physiological adaptations to the altitude are multiple and they contribute to alter different athletic qualities. The VO2 worsening could be associated to increased pulmonary vascular resistance and nitric oxide diffusion alteration. Performance impairments at altitude can also be accentuated by hypoxia-induced elevations in pulmonary arterial pressure. Clinical studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of sildenafil on the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. These effects have led to suggest that its indication for competitions at altitude might improve athletic performance. The investigations demonstrate different results depending on the altitude level and times and intensities of exercise. Some studies show performance improvements, although not in all participants. Individual responses vary widely between different athletes. This presentation examines the effects of altitude on exercise capacity and shows studies about the use of sildenafil to improve sport performance. This text also discusses the possible side effects and implications for the use of sildenafil in athletes, indication that is not the basic one of the drug. The physicians must know in each athlete the individual sildenafil side effects that could arise and that would influence negatively on health and performance.


altitude exercise; pulmonary hypertension; sildenafil

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