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Ground-breaking heart research at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital


Researchers working to develop a better physical treatment for an abnormal heart rhythm are aiming to recruit hundreds of patients to take part in a medical trial led by the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.


The research project is being run in nine hospitals across the South West, with the RD&E being its main sponsor site. The research is focussed on a condition called supraventricular tachycardia, a heart problem that causes the heart to beat very quickly and affects thousands of people around the world.


The aim is to improve the effectiveness of the initial physical treatment for this condition and to reduce the number of patients who need to go on to have emergency drug treatment. The trial itself does not use any drugs and only takes a few minutes to run for each of the 370 patients being invited to take part.


Andy Appelboam, Consultant Emergency Physician and chief investigator for the trial, said: “When patients come to hospital with SVT, they can help to get their heart beat back to normal by doing a physical treatment called a Valsalva Manoeuvre (VM) but often this doesn’t work. Changing the way the VM is done might make it better at stopping the SVT. We plan to do a trial to find out.

“In this trial, people with SVT who come to hospital (but are not too unwell) will be asked if they would like to take part. The people who take part will be allocated at random to do a standard or modified VM and the doctors will check if their hearts have gone back to normal afterwards with a heart tracing. After this, the people will be treated as usual with no more testing.

“If we see that one type of VM is more successful, we will let patients and doctors know which to use to reduce the number of patients who need to have emergency drug treatments when they get this problem.”


The trial is being co-ordinated and run through the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and has been funded by a Research for Patient Benefit Grant from the National Institute of Health Research. The research has been developed with the help of Arrhythmia Alliance and local Research Design Service (RDS).


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