American heart journal

Isosorbide dinitrate and nifedipine in variant angina pectoris.

PMID 3925744


The efficacy of isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN) in variant angina is enhanced by the addition of a calcium antagonist. A prospective double-blind, crossover trial of ISDN, 40 to 120 mg/day, and nifedipine, 40 to 120 mg/day, in 19 patients with variant angina and various degrees of coronary atherosclerosis showed that although both agents were equally effective in controlling angina of vasospastic origin, some patients responded better to one or the other drug. Such response could not be predicted by demographic factors, ECG changes, or degree of coronary atherosclerosis. Since quantitative angiography done in a similar group of patients showed that intracoronary nitroglycerin, 200 micrograms, was a more potent vasodilator than sublingual nifedipine, 10 mg (p less than 0.01), the calcium antagonists may have a different mechanism of preventing variant angina attacks and may act in an additive or synergistic fashion when administered in combination with long-acting nitrates. Such a combination will increase coronary blood flow, reduce ventricular volume and end-diastolic pressure, and reduce systemic arterial resistance. Coronary vasospasm may be directly prevented by a general inhibition of smooth muscle contraction by the calcium antagonist. Clinical studies suggest that combination therapy significantly improves the long-term prognosis of patients with variant angina and reduces the need for bypass surgery. Thus combining ISDN with a calcium antagonist is a rational and effective treatment for variant angina.

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Isosorbide dinitrate, European Pharmacopoeia (EP) Reference Standard