18 Apr

Modafinil as a Treatment for PAH

Modafinil is well known now for how great it handles things like promoting wakefulness, treating narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness from sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder, helping immensely with focus, and even treating stimulant addiction. However, there are many “off-label” uses that have appeared, from treating neurological fatigue to a recent discovery that shows it could help with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, or PAH. New information published less than a month ago shows promising potential for patients with PAH.

PAH: Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

If you’re wondering what PAH actually is, it’s a life–threatening condition that can get worse over time. It occurs when the very small arteries that go from your heart to your lungs become constricted or blocked making it harder for the blood to flow through them and raising your blood pressure. This condition causes the heart to pump harder to keep the blood flowing and will eventually weaken the heart muscles and can lead to heart failure. This condition can be caused for a number of reasons, including genetics, but is mostly due to various conditions that tend to cause high blood pressure (ex. Sleep apnea, emphysema, and more). You might not even notice some of the symptoms for a long time, though they include chest pain, fatigue, passing out, and swelling of the ankles and legs.

Can Modafinil Treat PAH?

It was recently found that modafinil can help improve PAH for those that are suffering from it due to the fact that it causes vasorelaxation (widening of the blood vessels) and helps to decrease medial thickening through down regulation of certain receptors, specifically the ET-1, ERA, and KCa3. In layman’s terms, it blocks the signals that tell an artery to get thicker. What’s unusual is that most stimulants do the exact opposite: Causing vasoconstriction and raising blood pressure. This meaningful study was conducted in Seoul, South Korea among various departments in the Ewha Womans University. Although this study was done on rats, the success is great news because human tests will follow very shortly and this could open up a whole new use for modafinil that is no longer just “off-label”.

The methods that were used in this study was done on six week old Sprague Dawley rats. The groups were split up into three with a control group that was given a saline solution, the modafinil group, and a group that was given monocrotaline (MCT). MCT actually creates PAH in rats, so this would make that group stand out more in the study. The modafinil group showed large signs of improvement as blood pressure dropped. The dosage of modafinil that was used was 50mg/kg, which would be a very large dose in a human. More research is needed to determine how much is necessary for human trials.

What’s next?

Modafinil keeps presenting new and exciting possibilities. Researchers love it because it has a proven track record of safety and has little to no potential for abuse or addiction. This is one of the most important aspects of a medication for patients with chronic conditions. Since they’ll likely be taking their pills often and potentially forever, it’s important to make sure that the medicine doesn’t do more harm than good in the long term. Modafinil fits the bill. It is very likely that in the future there will be more studies finding more uses for modafinil.

Keep in mind that human trials are still a ways off, and you should consult a medical professional if you have a condition like PAH before using modafinil. Although it is one of the safest drugs on the market it is always necessary to get a professional opinion.

29 Mar

Can Modafinil Lower your Blood Pressure?

A new study from South Korea opens up the possibility that modafinil could be used to reduce high blood pressure. At the moment the study has only been performed on rats, but this would be an incredible find if it proceeded to human trials. Most stimulants increase blood pressure which makes them unsuitable for people with high blood pressure.

Modafinil might be able to drop those numbers

The dangers of hypertension are well known and documented, you can suffer heart attacks or aneurysms as well as long term organ damage. For someone with chronic hypertension, as opposed to a temporary spike in blood pressure like the kind you get when you’re angry in traffic, it’s important to keep a strict diet and be careful with strenuous activity. Caffeine is often ruled out as well.

Imagine not being able to do the same amount of work as you would like simply because it might make your heart explode. And furthermore, you need to avoid all the common things everybody else takes to stay awake. What if modafinil could be the solution for those people?

What about humans?

An older study from 1999 looked at the blood pressure in humans who were already taking modafinil. They found that their regular resting pressure didn’t decrease considerably. However, when they were under strain, such as jogging or lifting objects, their blood pressure didn’t increase as much as it normally did. This could prove to be essential to preventing sudden rises in pressure that are responsible for many of the fatal outcomes.

Did you know that mental stress can cause your blood pressure to rise? Think back to the days where you had to take a particularly painful exam, how you wracked your brain looking for the right answer. You could feel your head pounding. That’s a perfect example of how this works. The same 1999 study tested patients with mental exercises, like the types of questions commonly found on IQ tests. The results were positive: Modafinil limited the rise in blood pressure in those individuals.

At this point in time it’s unclear if modafinil will actually lower your blood pressure, but it may be able to prevent it from rising uncontrollably. That also means it’s safer for people who have high blood pressure. Regardless, if you have hypertension and are considering taking modafinil you should consult your physician prior to doing so, especially if you are already taking other medications to treat that condition.

It’s exciting to see the new developments in the modafinil arena, what new treatments will they find next?