Refractory angina is a growing challenge for palliative medicine:a systematic review of non-invasive interventions

Murphy, Iain and Sivashankar, Akshara and Gadoud, Amy (2022) Refractory angina is a growing challenge for palliative medicine:a systematic review of non-invasive interventions. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, 12 (e6). e869-e881. ISSN 2045-435X

[thumbnail of BMJ supportive SR Refractory Angina]
Text (BMJ supportive SR Refractory Angina)
BMJ_supportive_SR_Refractory_Angina.docx - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (85kB)


Background Refractory angina can have a significant effect on quality of life. Non-invasive interventions have been suggested but there are few guidelines on management. Our aim was to systematically review all studies that reported non-invasive interventions for refractory angina and report on their effectiveness and safety. Methods We performed a literature search of six databases and a grey literature search. Treatments considered first line or second line according to the European Society of Cardiology were excluded, as were interventions that had undergone review within the last 3 years. Design, setting and outcomes were extracted and quality was assessed. A narrative synthesis was undertaken, including an analysis of adverse effects. Results 4476 studies were screened, 14 studies were included in our analysis. Interventions were specialist multidisciplinary programmes, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), perhexiline, medical optimisation, morphine and intranasal alfentanil. The effects of specialist programmes and perhexiline treatment were mixed. Positive effects were reported with TENS, opioids and medical optimisation, with improvements in symptoms, exercise capacity and quality of life. No major adverse effects were noted in any of the treatments. Conclusion There are non-invasive treatments for refractory angina that are overlooked by current guidelines. While the quality of these studies varies, positive changes have been reported in symptoms, exercise tolerance and quality of life with few adverse effects. There is a need for further research into these treatments which could be useful within the contexts of cardiology and palliative care.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Additional Information:
“This article has been accepted for publication in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 2022 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at” “© Authors (or their employer(s)) OR “© BMJ Publishing Group Ltd” ( for assignments of BMJ Case Reports) “
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
19 Aug 2020 08:40
Last Modified:
06 Oct 2023 00:39