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Safe And Effective Way To Treat ACE Inhibitor Angioedema In The ED

Update Date: May 15, 2014 09:59 AM EDT

Researchers at University of Cincinnati have devised a safe and effective treatment for life threatening angioedema attacks in the emergency department. 

In angioedema, patients experience a sapid swelling of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Sometimes, the swelling is so intense that it leads to airway obstruction and suffocation. Up until now, doctors treated angioedema like an allergic reaction with corticosteroids and antihistamines. However, the therapy did not always work for another version of the condition which is believed to be caused by taking a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors. 

"ACE inhibitors are a common treatment in patients with congestive heart failure and hypertension," said Joseph Moellman, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, in the press release. "It is also the most common etiology of patients presenting to the emergency department with angioedema."

Moellman added that there's currently no treatment for ACE inhibitor induced (ACEI) angioedema, as the physiology of the condition is different-caused by the levels of the blood vessel-dilating peptide bradykinin in the body.

Researchers were interested in seeing if Ecallantide, which has already safely treated acute attacks of hereditary angioedema, could help patients with ACEI angioedema. Ultimately they wanted to see if it could make them eligible for discharge within four hours of treatment.

Moellman along with other colleagues considered 50 patients and found that patients treated with Ecallantide were more likely to meet discharge sooner than those receiving  antihistamines and steroid. Statistically, 31 percent of Ecallantide patients were eligible for discharge within four hours, compared to 21 percent of patients receiving placebos. Further they also observed that patients experienced few side effects from the medication. 

The results of the study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, held May 14-17 in Dallas.

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