Treatment of Angina: Where Are We?

Cardiology. 2018;140(1):52-67. doi: 10.1159/000487936. Epub 2018 Jun 6.


Ischaemic heart disease is a major cause of death and disability worldwide, while angina represents its most common symptom. It is estimated that approximately 9 million patients in the USA suffer from angina and its treatment is challenging, thus the strategy to improve the management of chronic stable angina is a priority. Angina might be the result of different pathologies, ranging from the "classical" obstruction of a large coronary artery to alteration of the microcirculation or coronary artery spasm. Current clinical guidelines recommend antianginal therapy to control symptoms, before considering coronary artery revascularization. In the current guidelines, drugs are classified as being first-choice (beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and short-acting nitrates) or second-choice (ivabradine, nicorandil, ranolazine, trimetazidine) treatment, with the recommendation to reserve second-line modifications for patients who have contraindications to first-choice agents, do not tolerate them, or remain symptomatic. However, such a categorical approach is currently questioned. In addition, current guidelines provide few suggestions to guide the choice of drugs more suitable according to the underlying pathology or the patient comorbidities. Several other questions have recently emerged, such as: is there evidence-based data between first- and second-line treatments in terms of prognosis or symptom relief? Actually, it seems that newer antianginal drugs, which are classified as second choice, have more evidence-based clinical data that are more contemporary to support their use than what is available for the first-choice drugs. It follows that actual guidelines are based more on tradition than on evidence and there is a need for new algorithms that are more individualized to patients, their comorbidities, and pathophysiological mechanism of chronic stable angina.

Keywords: Angina; Beta-blockers; Calcium channel blockers; Ivabradine; Myocardial ischaemia; Nicorandil nitrates; Ranolazine; Trimetazidine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Angina, Stable / drug therapy*
  • Angina, Stable / physiopathology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Agents / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chest Pain / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Ivabradine
  • Nicorandil
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Ranolazine
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trimetazidine


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Cardiovascular Agents
  • Nicorandil
  • Ivabradine
  • Ranolazine
  • Trimetazidine