Scientists find a drug preventing sudden cardiac death without severe side effects

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A recent study from King’s College London found a drug OCT2013 could prevent sudden cardiac death as effectively as the drug lidocaine but without lidocaine’s severe side effects.

Many of the 100,000 deaths from heart attacks that happen each year in the UK occur before the ambulance can arrive on the scene.

This is due to ischaemia—the heart’s muscle not receiving enough blood due to a block in a coronary artery. This can quickly lead to death from an irregular heartbeat known as ventricular fibrillation (VF).

Though previous research identified drugs that can counteract VF, their side effects meant they failed clinical trials.

Lidocaine, for example, has been shown to prevent VF, but it has effects on other parts of the heart and the nervous system.

Consequently, lidocaine is only administered via an I.V. drip within hospitals and cannot address the pre-hospital deaths associated with ischemia-induced VF.

In the study, the researchers used a heart attack model in rats to test the effectiveness of the newly synthesized compound OCT2013. The drug is a compound with a similar structure to lidocaine.

They showed that OCT2013 converts to active lidocaine in an environment with reduced oxygen—in other words, the part of the heart undergoing ischaemia.

OCT2013 itself is inactive so it has no effects elsewhere, and therefore no side effects.

The researchers found that OCT2013 prevented sudden cardiac death in rats, mimicking the effects of lidocaine on the electrical properties of the ischaemic parts of the heart, without mimicking the unwanted effects of lidocaine elsewhere.

Chemical analyses showed that OCT2013 was converted into lidocaine only in the parts of the heart experiencing ischaemia.

This study invented a new class of drugs that has the potential to prevent the sudden death associated with a heart attack.

The researchers hope that OCT2013 could be the basis for a new drug that can be prescribed outside of the hospital, addressing an important unmet therapeutic need.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that calcium supplements may harm your heart health, and results showing flu and COVID-19 vaccines may increase heart disease risk.

The research was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology and conducted by Dr Mike Curtis et al.

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