Spinal electrical stimulation for intractable angina--long-term clinical outcome and safety

Eur Heart J. 1994 Jun;15(6):810-4. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.eurheartj.a060589.


Spinal cord electrical stimulation is an alternative therapy for patients with chronic pain syndromes including angina. Although it has been shown to produce symptomatic relief and reduce ischaemia, doubts remain about its long-term safety. We report here for the first time the results of a follow-up study over a period of 62 months, mean 45 months (range 21-62), of 23 patients who had stimulator units implanted for intractable angina unresponsive to standard therapy. Symptomatic improvement was good and persisted in the majority with a mean (SD) change of NYHA grade from 3.1 (0.8) pre-operatively to 2.0 (0.9) (P < 0.01) immediately after operation and 2.1 (1.07) at the latest follow-up. GTN consumption fell markedly. Mean (SEM) treadmill exercise time increased from 407 (45) s with the stimulator off to 499 (46) s with the stimulator on (P < 0.01). Forty-eight hour ST segment monitoring in those with bipolar leads showed a reduction of total number and duration of ischaemic episodes. There were three deaths, none of which were sudden or unexplained and this mortality rate is acceptable for such a group of patients. Two patients had a myocardial infarction, which was associated with typical pain and not masked by the treatment. Complications related to earlier lead designs were frequent. This study confirms that spinal electrical stimulation is an effective and safe form of alternative therapy for the occasional patient whose angina is unresponsive to standard therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / epidemiology
  • Angina Pectoris / physiopathology
  • Angina Pectoris / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / instrumentation
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome