The Role of Ivabradine in Managing Symptomatic Patients with Chronic Coronary Syndromes: A Clinically Oriented Approach

Cardiol Ther. 2022 Mar;11(1):163-174. doi: 10.1007/s40119-021-00247-1. Epub 2021 Dec 3.


Angina is a significant contributor to disability and impairment in quality of life in patients with chronic coronary syndromes (CCS). An elevated heart rate (HR) may trigger myocardial ischemia by increasing oxygen consumption and decreasing the diastolic time, compromising the coronary flow. HR-lowering strategies offer symptom control and prevent cardiovascular events in subgroups of patients with CCS. However, the best therapeutic approach to achieve the desired HR in patients with CCS can be challenging based on efficacy and tolerability. Guidelines usually propose β-blockers and/or non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers (CCB) for angina patients with elevated HR. Nonetheless, there is no clear evidence of greater antianginal efficacy of this strategy versus an alternative HR-lowering agent. Ivabradine reduces the HR by blocking the If current in the sinoatrial node without affecting myocardial contractility or vascular tone. The magnitude of the HR reduction by ivabradine is proportional to the initial HR, which decreases the risk of significant bradycardia. Ivabradine increases the diastolic time and the coronary flow reserve to a greater extent than β-blockers and favors collateralization, improving the regional blood flow. We present two clinical cases of patients with symptomatic CCS in whom HR control with ivabradine was fundamental for symptom control and improvement in left ventricular (LV) function. An earlier combination of ivabradine plus β-blockers would have provided more rapid symptom control and improved LV function in the first case. In the second case, the primary mechanism responsible for angina was most likely a coronary vasomotor abnormality, in which the use of β-blockers aggravated the discomfort. The combination of a dihydropyridine CCB plus ivabradine was highly influential in symptom control. Due to its effects beyond HR reduction and good tolerability, ivabradine should be considered an essential ally in managing patients with angina and high HR with or without LV dysfunction.

Keywords: Angina; Chronic coronary syndromes; Heart rate; Ivabradine; Symptomatic; Treatment.