Refractory angina pectoris: Mechanism and therapeutic options

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126 Scopus citations


As the survival of patients with primary coronary events continues to increase, the number of patients presenting with coronary artery disease unsuitable to further revascularization techniques and symptoms refractory to medical therapy also continues to rise. The aims of this review were to define the population of patients with refractory angina pectoris and to present the therapeutic options currently available for this condition. Refractory angina pectoris is defined, and traditional medical therapies are discussed. Then, current therapeutic options for patients with refractory angina are extensively reviewed. A multitude of therapeutic options exist for patients with refractory angina pectoris. Small, uncontrolled studies have shown a potential benefit for additional antiplatelet and antithrombotic therapy. In randomized trials, neurostimulation has been shown to be effective in reducing angina symptoms. Enhanced external counterpulsation is a viable treatment option for select patients with refractory angina. In many randomized trials, laser revascularization has been shown to diminish angina symptoms, although no placebo-controlled studies exist to date. Gene therapy is a promising area of research in this field. Percutaneous in situ coronary venous arterialization is in its infancy, but may be able to treat many patients if proved successful. No data support the role of chelation therapy in this population. Heart transplantation remains a final option for these patients. Further research of the techniques mentioned in this review is warranted. The importance of randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials cannot be overemphasized, as the placebo effect of these therapies is probably marked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-934
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2002


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