A Novel Mechanism for the Treatment of Angina, Arrhythmias, and Diastolic Dysfunction: Inhibition of Late INa Using Ranolazine

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Inhibition of the persistent or late Na current (INa) using ranolazine (Ranexa) represents a novel mechanism of action that was approved in the United States in 2006 and only recently in the European Union for use in patients with stable angina pectoris. In general, myocardial ischemia is associated with reduced adenosine triphosphate fluxes and decreased energy supply, resulting in severe disturbances of intracellular ion homeostasis in cardiac myocytes. In the recent years, increased late INa was suggested to contribute to this phenomenon by elevating intracellular Na concentration with subsequent rise in diastolic Ca levels by means of the sarcolemmal Na-Ca exchange system. Ranolazine, a specific inhibitor of late INa, reduces Na influx and hence ameliorates disturbed Na and Ca homeostasis. This is associated with a symptomatic improvement of angina in patients unlike other antianginal drugs without affecting heart rate or systemic blood pressure as shown in placebo-controlled studies. Therefore, ranolazine is a useful new option for patients with chronic stable angina not only as an add-on therapy. New clinical and experimental studies even point to potential antiarrhythmic effects, beneficial effects in diastolic heart failure, and under hyperglycemic conditions. In the present article, the relevant pathophysiological concepts for the role of late INa inhibition are reviewed and the most recent data from basic studies and clinical trials are summarized.

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