Antianginal drugs

By Katie Lee,2014-04-29 21:57
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Antianginal drugs

Cardiovascular drugs

Antianginal drugs

    The three main types of angina are:

    ; stable angina (angina of effort), where atherosclerosis restricts blood flow in

    the coronary vessels; attacks are usually caused by exertion and relieved by


    ; unstable angina (acute coronary insufficiency), which is considered to be an

    intermediate stage between stable angina and myocardial infarction

    ; Prinzmetal angina (variant angina), caused by coronary vasospasm, in which

    attacks occur at rest.

    Management depends on the type of angina and may include drug treatment, coronary artery bypass surgery, or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. Stable angina

    Drugs are used both for the relief of acute pain and for prophylaxis to reduce further attacks; they include organic nitrates, beta-adrenoceptor antagonists (beta-blockers), and calcium-channel blockers.


     Organic nitrates have a vasodilating effect; they are sometimes used alone, especially in elderly patients with infrequent symptoms. Tolerance leading to reduced antianginal effect is often seen in patients taking prolonged-action nitrate formulations. Evidence suggests that patients should have a ‘nitrate-free’ interval to prevent the

    development of tolerance. Adverse effects such as flushing, headache, and postural hypotension may limit nitrate therapy but tolerance to these effects also soon develops. The short-acting sublingual formulation of glyceryl trinitrate is used both for

    prevention of angina before exercise or other stress and for rapid treatment of chest pain. A sublingual tablet of isosorbide dinitrate is more stable in storage than

    glyceryl trinitrate and is useful in patients who require nitrates infrequently; it has a slower onset of action, but effects persist for several hours.


     Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists (beta-blockers), such as atenolol , block beta-

    adrenergic receptors in the heart, and thereby decrease heart rate and myocardial contractility and oxygen consumption, particularly during exercise. Beta-blockers are first-line therapy for patients with effort-induced chronic stable angina; they improve exercise tolerance, relieve symptoms, reduce the severity and frequency of angina attacks, and increase the anginal threshold.

    Beta-blockers should be withdrawn gradually to avoid precipitating an anginal attack; they should not be used in patients with underlying coronary vasospasm (Prinzmetal angina).

    Beta-blockers may precipitate asthma and should not be used in patients with asthma or a history of obstructive airways disease. Some, including atenolol, have less effect on beta (bronchial) receptors and are therefore relatively cardioselective. Although 2

    they have less effect on airways resistance they are not free of this effect and should be avoided.

    Beta-blockers slow the heart and may induce myocardial depression, rarely precipitating heart failure. They should not be given to patients who have incipient ventricular failure, second- or third-degree atrioventricular block, or peripheral vascular disease.

    Beta-blockers should be used with caution in diabetes since they may mask the symptoms of hypoglycaemia, such as rapid heart rate. Beta-blockers enhance the hypoglycaemic effect of insulin and may precipitate hypoglycaemia.


     A calcium-channel blocker, such as verapamil, is used as an alternative to a beta-

    blocker to treat stable angina. Calcium-channel blockers interfere with the inward movement of calcium ions through the slow channels in heart and vascular smooth muscle cell membranes, leading to relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. Myocardial contractility may be reduced, the formation and propagation of electrical impulses within the heart may be depressed and coronary or systemic vascular tone may be diminished. Calcium-channel blockers are used to improve exercise tolerance in patients with chronic stable angina due to coronary atherosclerosis or with abnormally small coronary arteries and limited vasodilator reserve.

    Calcium-channel blockers can also be used in patients with unstable angina with a vasospastic origin, such as Prinzmetal angina, and in patients in whom alterations in cardiac tone may influence the angina threshold.

    Unstable angina

     Unstable angina requires prompt aggressive treatment to prevent progression to myocardial infarction.

    Initial treatment is with acetylsalicylic acid to inhibit platelet aggregation, followed by heparin. Nitrates and beta-blockers are given to relieve ischaemia; if beta-blockers are contraindicated, verapamil is an alternative, provided left ventricular function is adequate.

    Prinzmetal angina

     Treatment is similar to that for unstable angina, except that a calcium-channel blocker is used instead of a beta-blocker.


    Atenolol is a representative beta-adrenoceptor antagonist. Various drugs can serve as alternatives

Tablets , atenolol 50 mg, 100 mg

    Injection (Solution for injection), atenolol 500 micrograms/ml, 10-ml ampoule [not

    included on WHO Model List]


     angina and myocardial infarction; arrhythmias (section 12.2); hypertension (section 12.3); migraine prophylaxis (section 7.2)


    asthma or history of obstructive airways disease (unless no alternative, then with extreme caution and under specialist supervision); uncontrolled heart failure, Prinzmetal angina, marked bradycardia, hypotension, sick sinus syndrome, second- and third-degree atrioventricular block, cardiogenic shock; metabolic acidosis; severe peripheral arterial disease; phaeochromocytoma (unless used with alpha-blocker) Precautions:

    avoid abrupt withdrawal in angina; may precipitate or worsen heart failure; pregnancy (Appendix 2); breastfeeding (Appendix 3); first-degree atrioventricular block; liver function deteriorates in portal hypertension; reduce dose in renal impairment (Appendix 4); diabetes mellitus (small decrease in glucose tolerance, masking of symptoms of hypoglycaemia); history of hypersensitivity (increased reaction to allergens, also reduced response to epinephrine (adrenaline)); myasthenia gravis; interactions: Appendix 1


    Angina, by mouth, ADULT 50 mg once daily, increased if necessary to 50 mg twice daily or 100 mg once daily

    Myocardial infarction (early intervention within 12 hours), by intravenous injection

    over 5 minutes, ADULT 5 mg, then by mouth 50 mg after 15 minutes, followed by

    50 mg after 12 hours, then 100 mg daily

    Adverse effects:

    gastrointestinal disturbances (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal cramp); fatigue; cold hands and feet; exacerbation of intermittent claudication and Raynaud phenomenon; bronchospasm; bradycardia, heart failure, conduction disorders, hypotension; sleep disturbances, including nightmares; depression, confusion; hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia; exacerbation of psoriasis; rare reports of rashes and dry eyes (oculomucocutaneous syndromereversible on withdrawal)

    Glyceryl trinitrate

     Sublingual tablets , glyceryl trinitrate 500 micrograms

    Note. Glyceryl trinitrate tablets are unstable. They should therefore be dispensed in glass or stainless

    steel containers, and closed with a foil-lined cap which contains no wadding. No more than 100

    tablets should be dispensed at one time, and any unused tablets should be discarded 8 weeks after

    opening the container


    prophylaxis and treatment of angina


    hypersensitivity to nitrates; hypotension; hypovolaemia; hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis, cardiac tamponade, constrictive pericarditis, mitral stenosis; marked anaemia; head trauma; cerebral haemorrhage; angle-closure glaucoma


    severe hepatic or renal impairment; hypothyroidism; malnutrition; hypothermia; recent history of myocardial infarction; interactions: Appendix 1


    Angina, sublingually, ADULT 0.51 mg, repeated as required

    Adverse effects:

    throbbing headache; flushing; dizziness, postural hypotension; tachycardia (paradoxical bradycardia also reported)

    Isosorbide dinitrate

     Isosorbide dinitrate is a representative nitrate vasodilator. Various drugs can serve as alternatives

    Sublingual tablets , isosorbide dinitrate 5 mg

    Sustained-release (prolonged-release) tablets or capsules , isosorbide dinitrate 20 mg,

    40 mg [not included on WHO Model List]


    prophylaxis and treatment of angina; heart failure (section 12.4) Contraindications:

    hypersensitivity to nitrates; hypotension; hypovolaemia; hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis, cardiac tamponade, constrictive pericarditis, mitral stenosis; marked anaemia; head trauma; cerebral haemorrhage; angle-closure glaucoma


    severe hepatic or renal impairment; hypothyroidism; malnutrition; hypothermia; recent history of myocardial infarction; interactions: Appendix 1

    Tolerance. Patients taking isosorbide dinitrate for the long-term management of angina may often

    develop tolerance to the antianginal effect; this can be avoided by giving the second of 2

    daily doses of longer-acting oral presentations after an 8-hour rather than a 12-hour interval,

    thus ensuring a nitrate-free interval each day


    Angina (acute attack), sublingually, ADULT 510 mg, repeated as required

    Angina prophylaxis, by mouth, ADULT 30120 mg daily in divided doses (see

    advice on Tolerance above)

    Adverse effects:

    throbbing headache; flushing; dizziness, postural hypotension; tachycardia (paradoxical bradycardia also reported)

    Verapamil hydrochloride

     Tablets, verapamil hydrochloride 40 mg, 80 mg

    Note. Sustained-release (prolonged-release) tablets are available. A proposal to include such a product

    in a national list of essential drugs should be supported by adequate documentation


    angina, including stable, unstable, and Prinzmetal; arrhythmias (section 12.2) Contraindications:

    hypotension, bradycardia, second- and third-degree atrioventricular block, sinoatrial block, sick sinus syndrome; cardiogenic shock; history of heart failure or significantly impaired left ventricular function (even if controlled by therapy); atrial flutter or fibrillation complicating Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome; porphyria Precautions:

    first-degree atrioventricular block; acute phase of myocardial infarction (avoid if bradycardia, hypotension, left ventricular failure); hepatic impairment (Appendix 5); children (specialist advice only); pregnancy (Appendix 2); breastfeeding (Appendix 3); avoid grapefruit juice; interactions: Appendix 1


Angina, by mouth, ADULT 80120 mg 3 times daily (120 mg 3 times daily usually

    required in Prinzmetal angina)

    Adverse effects:

    constipation; less commonly nausea, vomiting, flushing, headache, dizziness, fatigue, ankle oedema; rarely allergic reactions (erythema, pruritus, urticaria, angioedema, Stevens-Johnson syndrome); myalgia, arthralgia, paraesthesia, erythromelalgia; increased prolactin concentration; gynaecomastia and gingival hyperplasia on long-term treatment; with high doses, hypotension, heart failure, bradycardia, heart block, and asystole (due to negative inotropic effect)

    Antiarrhythmic drugs

     Treatment of arrhythmias requires precise diagnosis of the type of arrhythmia, and electrocardiography is essential; underlying causes such as heart failure require appropriate treatment.

    Antiarrhythmic drugs must be used cautiously since most drugs that are effective in treating arrhythmias can provoke them in some circumstances; this arrhythmogenic effect is often enhanced by hypokalaemia. When antiarrhythmic drugs are used in combination, their cumulative negative inotropic effects may be significant, particularly if myocardial function is impaired.

    Atrial fibrillation

     The increased ventricular rate in atrial fibrillation can be controlled with a beta-

    adrenoceptor antagonist (beta-blocker) or verapamil . Digoxin is often effective

    for controlling the rate at rest; it is also appropriate if atrial fibrillation is accompanied by congestive heart failure. Intravenous digoxin is occasionally required if the ventricular rate needs rapid control. If adequate control at rest or during exercise cannot be achieved readily verapamil may be introduced with digoxin, but it should be used with caution if ventricular function is impaired. Anticoagulants are indicated especially in valvular or myocardial disease, and in the elderly. Warfarin is preferred

    to acetylsalicylic acid in preventing emboli. If atrial fibrillation began within the previous 48 hours and there does not appear to be a danger of thromboembolism, antiarrhythmic drugs, such as procainamide or quinidine , may be used to terminate

    the fibrillation or to maintain sinus rhythm after cardioversion.

    Atrial flutter

     Digoxin will sometimes slow the ventricular rate at rest. Reversion to sinus rhythm is best achieved by direct current electrical shock. If the arrhythmia is long-standing, treatment with an anticoagulant should be considered before cardioversion to prevent emboli. Intravenous verapamil reduces ventricular fibrillation during paroxysmal

    (sudden onset and intermittent) attacks of atrial flutter. An initial intravenous dose may be followed by oral treatment; hypotension may occur with high doses. It should not be used for tachyarrhythmias where the QRS complex is wide unless a