Efficacy of Venlafaxine for Symptomatic Relief in Young Adult Patients With Functional Chest Pain: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial

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OBJECTIVES:Esophageal hypersensitivity is currently believed to have a crucial role in the pathogenesis of functional chest pain (FCP). The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical efficacy of venlafaxine, a serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), for FCP in young adult patients.METHODS:Patients diagnosed with FCP were randomized to either an extended-release formulation of venlafaxine (75 mg hora somni) or a placebo for 4 weeks. After a washout period of 2 weeks, patients crossed over to the other arm of the study. The primary efficacy variable was the number of patients with >50% improvement in symptom scores. The secondary efficacy variables were (i) the symptom intensity score during each week, (ii) quality of life (QOL), (iii) the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score, and (iv) side effects.RESULTS:A total of 43 patients (37 men, mean age 23.5±1.9 years) completed the study. A positive response was observed in 52.0% of patients during venlafaxine treatment; 4.0% had a positive response with placebo treatment as assessed by the intention-to-treat analysis (venlafaxine vs. placebo: odds ratio 26.0; 95% confidence interval 5.7–118.8;P<0.001). Results of Short-Form 36 (SF-36) indicated that patients who received venlafaxine treatment had a significantly greater improvement in body pain and emotional role compared with those who received placebo treatment (P=0.002 andP=0.002, respectively). No significant change was noted in the depression score after venalafaxine or placebo treatment. One patient withdrew from the study because of sleep disturbance and loss of appetite while receiving venlafaxine.CONCLUSIONS:Venlafaxine, an SNRI antidepressant, significantly improved symptoms in young adult patients with FCP.

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