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Argentine soccer team takes Viagra to combat altitude sickness 2015-02-20
By Marissa Payne

The River Plate soccer team from Argentina has come up with a new way to combat altitude sickness on a trip to the highlands of Bolivia. The entire team has been dosed with sildenafil citrate, the generic drug better known as Viagra, Spain’s El Mundo reports.

The drug used to combat erectile malfunction in men is being taken along with caffeine and aspirin to counteract common symptoms such as headache, nausea and drowsiness that come with playing more than 12,100 feet above sea level. And the prescription is now quite common, according to Pedro Hansing, the staff doctor of the Colombian club Millonarios.

“Before, diuretics were used. Now, this is the prescribed method,” Hansing said (via Spain’s AS.com).

This all might sound dubious, but scientific studies stand behind prescribing Viagra at high altitudes to athletes. In 2006, the American Physiological Society published a study that tested the drug on cyclists. It found that Viagra “significantly improved the cardiovascular and exercise performance measures” of the participants, improving their output up to 45 percent. The reason is because the drug, which was originally developed to treat high blood pressure, enhances blood flow to various parts of the body, including the lungs.

“This improves blood flow from the heart and increases oxygen transport to working muscles. Because the high altitude atmosphere contains less oxygen, it is more difficult to get enough oxygen to support strenuous physical activity than it is at sea level,” the study’s summary published on ScienceDaily.com states.

As far as side effects, well, luckily soccer games don’t last longer than four hours…

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