Shailesh Sharma 11 Dec 2018

Did you know heart disease is the number one killer worldwide? Each year, heart diseases claim nearly 18 million lives globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Physical activity, proper nutrition, and consultation with a heart specialist are the cornerstones of heart disease treatment and prevention. But, once you have a heart disease, you may need medications and surgery to keep your heart beating.

Advances in Heart-Disease Treatment in 2018: Medications, Technology, and Prevention

1. Nasal spray to treat rapid heartbeats

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) causes episodes of abnormally fast heartbeats. Currently, the medications to restore normal heartbeats are available in the form of injections.

In a major breakthrough, a team of researchers from the US and Canada discovered that nasal spray of a blood pressure-lowering drug Etripamil can effectively normalize heartbeats in patients with PSVT. Besides, they also revealed nasal Etripamil is safe and devoid of serious side effects.

2. A new version of portable heart pump

A heart pump is a mechanical device implanted in the chest of a patient with heart failure. It may also be used in a patient with a weakened heart. However, these pumps carry a significant risk of infection and bleeding.

In one trial, researchers compared the effectiveness of a new version of portable heart pump HeartMate 3 with an existing device called HeartMate II.

At the end of the trial, they found that HeartMate 3 resulted in a higher rate of survival, caused fewer incidences of brain attacks, and reduced the need for reoperation. 

3. The next-gen cholesterol-lowering drug shows promise in a large study

Having high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the “bad” cholesterol is a known risk factor for several heart diseases. Doctors commonly prescribe a class of medications called “statins” to lower blood cholesterol. However, these medications may not work for some people.

For those people, a new medication evolocumab might just be the savior. Evolocumab (Brand: Repatha) belongs to the PCSK9 inhibitor class of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Together with statins, evolocumab can reduce the blood levels of cholesterol by almost 60 percent, according to a large 2017 study. Such a large drop significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

4. An anti-inflammatory drug might be the next big thing in heart-disease treatment

Hardening of the arteries, also called atherosclerosis, can cause problems with the proper functioning of the heart. Available medications for atherosclerosis focus on lowering the blood levels of fats.

Atherosclerosis could be a result of long-term inflammation rather than just high blood fat levels. Moreover, several studies have found that levels of inflammatory substances are higher in patients with heart disease.

Canakinumab is an anti-inflammatory drug. It reduces the levels of inflammatory substances. In one study, patients who took canakinumab had significantly lower rates of recurrent heart attacks, nonfatal strokes or cardiac death.

5. Mediterranean diet could cut heart disease risk by 25 percent

In a recent study, researchers at the Harvard Medical School revealed that women who consumed the Mediterranean diet had a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, the benefits appear to be comparative to those of statins.

The participants in the study consumed a diet with generous amounts of plants and olive oil. Meanwhile, they consumed fewer meats and sweets. They used insulin efficiently, had lower systemic inflammation and improved glucose metabolism.

For details on the types of foods to include in your diet, consult your heart specialist.

Want to learn more?

Talk to your heart specialist about these treatment options and find out what works the best for you.

To search for Cardiology healthcare providers worldwide, please use the Mya Care search engine.

About the Author:
Shailesh Sharma is a registered pharmacist and medical content writer from Nepal. He enjoys digging into latest findings of research and strongly believes in evidence-based health information. He graduated from Pokhara University School of Health and Allied Sciences and was engaged in clinical pharmacy and academia in various regions of Nepal for almost 9 years. Shailesh also serves as Project Manager of Graduate Pharmacists’ Association, Nepal (GPAN).


  1. WHO. Cardiovascular Disease.
  2. Stambler BS, Dorian P, Sager PT, et al. Etripamil Nasal Spray for Rapid Conversion of Supraventricular Tachycardia to Sinus Rhythm. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;72(5):489-497.
  3. Mehra MR, Naka Y, Uriel N, et al. A Fully Magnetically Levitated Circulatory Pump for Advanced Heart Failure. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(5):440-450.
  4. MNT. Strokes.
  5. Sabatine MS, Giugliano RP, Keech AC, et al. Evolocumab and Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(18):1713-1722.
  6. Ridker PM, Everett BM, Thuren T, et al. Antiinflammatory Therapy with Canakinumab for Atherosclerotic Disease. N Engl J Med. 2017;377(12):1119-1131.
  7. Brigham and Women's Hospital. (2018, December 7). What's behind Mediterranean diet and lower cardiovascular risk? Investigators identify, assess underlying mechanisms that may explain diet's 25 percent reduction in cardiovascular risk for American women.

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