Author(s): Andrew Appelboam, Adam Reuben, Clifford Mann, James Gagg, Prof Paul Ewings
The Valsalva manoeuvre is an internationally recommended treatment for supraventricular tachycardia, but cardioversion is rare in practice (5–20%), necessitating the use of other treatments including adenosine, which patients often find unpleasant. We assessed whether a postural modification to the Valsalva manoeuvre could improve its effectiveness.
We did a randomised controlled, parallel-group trial at emergency departments in England. We randomly allocated adults presenting with supraventricular tachycardia (excluding atrial fibrillation and flutter) in a 1:1 ratio to undergo a modified Valsalva manoeuvre (done semi-recumbent with supine repositioning and passive leg raise immediately after the Valsalva strain), or a standard semi-recumbent Valsalva manoeuvre. A 40 mm Hg pressure, 15 s standardised strain was used in both groups. Randomisation, stratified by centre, was done centrally and independently, with allocation with serially numbered, opaque, sealed, tamper-evident envelopes. Patients and treating clinicians were not masked to allocation. The primary outcome was return to sinus rhythm at 1 min after intervention, determined by the treating clinician and electrocardiogram and confirmed by an investigator masked to treatment allocation. This study is registered with Current Controlled Trials (ISRCTN67937027).
We enrolled 433 participants between Jan 11, 2013, and Dec 29, 2014. Excluding second attendance by five participants, 214 participants in each group were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. 37 (17%) of 214 participants assigned to standard Valsalva manoeuvre achieved sinus rhythm compared with 93 (43%) of 214 in the modified Valsalva manoeuvre group (adjusted odds ratio 3·7 (95% CI 2·3–5·8; p<0·0001). We recorded no serious adverse events.
In patients with supraventricular tachycardia, a modified Valsalva manoeuvre with leg elevation and supine positioning at the end of the strain should be considered as a routine first treatment, and can be taught to patients.Arrhythmia: Open Access