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Argentina Soccer Players Allegedly Using Viagra to Combat High Altitude Sickness in Ecuador

It is not the first time Viagra has been used to combat increased altitude by athletes.

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Argentina soccer club, Union de Santa Fe, will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador, on Wednesday to play against Independiente del Valle for a Copa Sudamericana clash. And playing in high altitude, specifically 2,850 meters above sea level, will be challenging for any team visiting the Quito.

Naturally, high altitude is difficult for athletes, which causes breathlessness. So, to combat that challenge, Union de Santa Fe will be using Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate), according to ESPN.

Sold under the brand name Viagra, Sildenafil Citrate is prescribed for the treatment of Erectile Dysfunction (ED), although the drug was initially used for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, which is characterized by the symptoms of chest pain and breathlessness.

Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa is one of the most challenging places to play due to high altitude, which has had some adverse effects on teams before. For example, in the NFL, a player like Ryan Clark, former Steelers cornerback, could not play at Mile High Stadium in Denver because of his sickle cell anemia.

In soccer, Argentina soccer players have used Viagra in the past, specifically in 2017 during the World Cup qualifiers when they played in La Paz, Bolivia.

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The club’s doctor Santiago Calvo said, “For (the lack of oxygen), we have oxygen tubes to be used before the match, at half-time and after the game.

Calvo added, “The other side is the pressure from the atmosphere. This increased pressure creates a vasoconstriction; the arteries become smaller around the lungs. This decreases the interchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide — and that is where the Viagra comes in. It widens the blood vessels around the lungs.” Fortunately, soccer matches may run around two hours at their longest. It could be a major problem if Union de Santa Fe had a four-hour match on Wednesday.

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