A study in Respirology published by Wiley-Blackwell finds that muscle relaxing drugs can effectively reduce Pulmonary Embolism (PE) - a blood clot in blood vessels running towards the lungs which impair breathing and often resulting in death.

Lead author of "Beneficial Effects of Hydrocortisone and Papaverine on a Model of Pulmonary Embolism Induced by Autologous Blood Clots in Isolated and Perfused Rabbit Lungs", Dr. Humberto E. Trejo suggests that PE is not merely a physical obstruction but could be affected by other inflammatory factors.

The study shows that PE in isolated rabbit lungs could be attenuated by the vasodilator papaverine - a muscle relaxant which is used to treat hypertension. In addition, a similar phenomenon was seen with the administration of an anti- inflammatory drug, hydrocortisone.

"Traditionally, PE has been explained as a physical phenomenon where the clots obstruct blood flow. The results of the study proves that platelets-blood cells that form clots- are also capable of restricting blood flow and trigger inflammatory responses." says Dr Trejo.

PE occurs in more than 600 000 patients a year in the United States, with almost a third resulting in death. Death due to PE is often instantaneous with up to 90% of patients succumbing within two hours after the onset of symptoms.

Dr. Trejo adds, "These findings have significant therapeutic implications in the management of PE. With further research, we can use vasodilators and anti-inflammatory medications as additional drugs to treat PE."

About Respirology

Respirology is a journal of international standing, publishing peer-reviewed articles of scientific excellence in clinical and experimental respiratory biology and disease and its related fields of research including thoracic surgery, internal medicine, immunology, intensive and critical care, epidemiology, cell and molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology and physiology.

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