Leeds research suggests new use for anti-angina drug
An international research team, led from the University of Leeds, has found that a common anti-angina drug could help protect the heart against carbon monoxide poisoning.
Animal studies have shown that the anti-angina drug ranolazine can significantly reduce the number of deaths from arrhythmias irregular or abnormally paced heartbeats that have been triggered by carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide poisoning causes 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year. Many people who have been exposed to the gas develop cardiac arrhythmias, which if left untreated can lead to a fatal cardiac arrest. The findings could have important implications for the development of a protective treatment for adults and children who have been exposed to toxic levels of the gas.
When patients are admitted to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning, the main problem doctors face is preventing damage to the body whilst the body slowly removes the chemical, said University of Leeds Professor Chris Peers, who led the research. Weve shown that ranolazine can rapidly protect the heart and prevent the kind of cardiac events which threaten patients long after their exposure to the gas.
The findings may also help those living in built-up areas or whose work involves daily exposure to lower levels of carbon monoxide, such as firefighters, the researchers believe. A recent and extensive epidemiological study of nine million people in the US showed a clear link between environmental carbon monoxide exposure and hospitalisation due to cardiovascular complaints. As ranolazine is a daily medication for angina, the researchers suggest it may be suitable to protect patients from the harmful effects of chronic exposure, though human clinical trials will be required to confirm this.
Dr Hélène Wilson, Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which co-funded the study, said:
This study is a good example of research being used to better understand the underlying causes of an abnormal heart rhythm and in this case it has uncovered the ability of an old drug to perform a new trick. Carbon monoxide poisoning is tragically common but hopefully these promising results can be replicated in people so that it saves lives in the future.
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