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Can Experimental Nasal Spray Treat Common Heart Problem?

Drug trial shows promise for treatment of rapid heart rate condition called PSVT

woman using nasal spray

FRIDAY, May 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental nasal spray helped treat a common rapid heart rate condition, researchers report.

The spray, called Etripamil, was tested in patients with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT). PSVT affects about 500,000 Americans and leads to more than 50,000 hospital visits a year in the United States.

"This study introduces a completely novel therapy that has never been used before, and has the potential to alter how we treat patients with PSVT," said study lead author Dr. Bruce Stambler. He is a cardiac electrophysiologist at Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta.

One expert in cardiology said PSVT is common.

"Approximately 500,000 patients in the US suffer from this unpredictable and rapid heart beat," said Dr. Apoor Patel, an electrophysiologist at Northwell Health's Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, NY.

"This abnormal heart rhythm can cause the heart to beat from 150 to over 200 beats per minute," he said.

Right now, there is no PSVT treatment that patients can use at home or without medical supervision, the researchers added. They are often treated with adenosine, calcium channel blockers or beta blockers, which must be given intraveneously in a hospital or other monitored setting.

The phase 2 trial included more than 100 patients from the United States and Canada. The researchers said rapid heart rate was controlled within 15 minutes in 87 percent of patients who received a 70-milligram (mg) dose of the nasal spray; 75 percent of patients who got 105 mg; and 95 percent of patients given a 140-mg dose.

That compared to 35 percent of patients who received a placebo.

The most common side effects were temporary nasal congestion or irritation, according to the study, presented Thursday at the Heart Rhythm Society's annual meeting, in Chicago.

"Many patients who suffer from PSVT can experience sudden episodes anytime and anywhere. This fast-acting nasal spray therapy could give patients the convenience to self-administer treatment no matter the location and without having to go to the hospital," Stambler said in a society news release.

As for Patel, he said the drug, "needs to be studied in a real world setting, but the preliminary results are very encouraging. Adoption of the drug could markedly improve the quality of life of patients with PSVT and dramatically reduce emergency room visits."

Until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on fast heart rate.

SOURCE: Apoor Patel, MD, director of complex ablations, Department of Electrophysiology at Northwell Health's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, NY; Heart Rhythm Society, news release, May 11, 2017
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