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Some Evidence Shows Chinese Herbal Medicine Helps Angina Patients

ype of heart disease.

With stable angina, patients experience a regular pattern of chest pain. In unstable angina, patients experience unpredictable pain due to a restriction or blockage in blood flow. A third type of angina, called variant angina, occurs rarely.

“There are very clearly drawn guidelines for treating unstable angina based on numerous clinical trials,” said James L. Weiss, M.D., director of the cardiology fellowship and training program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Weiss was not affiliated with the review.

Conventional pharmacological treatment for patients with angina typically includes medications such as nitrates, which relax and widen blood vessels; beta-blockers, which slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure; calcium channel blockers, which relax blood vessels and slow heart rate; and heparin, which prevents clot formation.

In seven of the studies in the review, patients with unstable angina treated with tongxinluo and conventional treatment who underwent EKGs had better results than patients treated with conventional treatment alone. An EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart and helps physicians detect cardiac problems or changes.

Evidence from ten of the studies indicated that the herbal medicine improved angina symptoms, such as chest pain and discomfort. In three of the studies, tongxinluo’s results appeared as effective as those of nitrate medications.

Tongxinluo’s beneficial role in treating angina did not surprise Taixiang, who called the review “an encouraging exploration.”

However, more work needs to be done, according to the study authors. The studies did not show that the use of tongxinluo reduced the number of heart attacks, sudden death or the need for cardiac procedures such as bypass or angioplasty.

The review also linked the herbal medicine to uncomfortable side effects, including gastrointestinal sym
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