Allopurinol, for 40 years a mainstay in the treatment of gout, has been shown to work for angina too, according to scientists at the University of Dundee.
To reach this surprising conclusion, Awsan Noman and colleagues enrolled 65 patients with chronic stable angina pectoris and angiographically proven coronary artery disease into a randomized, controlled trial of high-dose allpurinol (600 mg per day) vs. placebo.
The scientists found that patients randomized to receive allopurinol increased the median time to ST depression (a sine qua none of coronary ischemia) from 232 seconds to 298 seconds, whereas in placebo-treated subjects that statistic increased from 232 seconds to 249 seconds, a significant difference.
Allopurinol also increased total exercise time and the time before onset of chest pain. There were no adverse treatment effects.
Noman’s group suspects the beneficial effects of Allopurinol are caused by its ability to inhibit an enzyme known as xanthine oxidase. This in turn reduces myocardial oxygen (energy) consumption for a particular stroke volume.
Next up for the scientists is to determine how best to use allopurinol in the management of chronic stable angina. They were optimistic in this regard, noting that compared with nitrates and beta blockers allopurinol does not reduce blood pressure or heart rate, or trigger headaches and tiredness, which commonly accompany standard drug treatments.
They also noted that allopurinol may be quite useful in developing countries where the incidence of coronary artery disease is exploding and access to more expensive drugs and invasive therapies is limited.
The article appears in Lancet.