Clinical question: Does a postural modification to the Valsalva maneuver improve its effectiveness?
Background: The Valsalva maneuver, often used to treat supraventricular tachycardia, is rarely successful. A modification to the maneuver to increase relaxation phase venous return and vagal stimulation could improve its efficacy.
Study design: Multicenter, randomized controlled trial (RCT).
Setting: Ten emergency departments in England.
Synopsis: Four hundred thirty-three patients with stable supraventricular tachycardia (excluding atrial fibrillation or flutter) were randomized to use the Valsalva maneuver (control) or modified Valsalva maneuver (intervention). In the control group, strain was standardized using a manometer (40 mm Hg for 15 seconds). In the intervention group, patients underwent the same maneuver, followed by lying supine with passive leg raise to 45 degrees for 15 seconds. Participants could repeat the maneuver if it was initially unsuccessful. Randomization was stratified by center.
Using an intention-to-treat analysis, 43% of the intervention group achieved the primary outcome of sinus rhythm one minute after straining, compared with 17% of the control group (P<0.0001). The intervention group was less likely to receive adenosine (50% vs. 69%, P=0.0002) or any emergency, anti-arrhythmic treatment (80% vs. 57%, P<0.0001).
No significant differences were seen in hospital admissions, length of ED stay, or adverse events between groups.
Bottom line: In patients with stable supraventricular tachycardia, modifying the Valsalva maneuver is significantly more effective in restoring sinus rhythm.
Citation: Appelboam A, Reuben A, Mann C, et al. Postural modification to the standard Valsalva manoeuvre for emergency treatment of supraventricular tachycardias (REVERT): a randomised controlled trial [published online ahead of print August 24, 2015]. Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)61485-4.