This study was performed to compare the relative efficacies of propranolol and verapamil in patients with stable angina pectoris. In 18 patients (16 men, two women, mean age 58 years) with coronary artery disease and angina of effort, the results of low (40 mg every 6 hours) and high-dose (80 mg every 6 hours) propranolol therapy were compared to those of low (80 mg every 6 hours) and high-dose (120 mg every 6 hours) verapamil therapy in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled evaluation which lasted eight weeks: two weeks of placebo therapy, two weeks of propranolol or verapamil (one week low-dose, one week high-dose) therapy, three days of down-titration followed by one week of placebo therapy, two weeks of propranolol or verapamil therapy (whichever was not given earlier in the trial (one week low-dose, one week high-dose) and three days of down-titration. During each period the following were quantitated: (1) chest pains/week; (2) nitroglycerin used/week; (3) transient ischemic S-T segment deviations and highest grade of ventricular ectopic activity on two-channel Holter monitor; (4) S-T segment deviations during supine bicycle exercise; (5) left ventricular volumes and ejection fraction at rest and during exercise (assessed by equilibrium gated blood pool scintigraphy); and (6) pulmonary function studies. Propranolol and high-dose verapamil therapy significantly reduced the frequency of angina, and high-dose verapamil therapy diminished both the need for nitroglycerin and the frequency of transient ischemic S-T segment deviations on Holter monitor. Neither agent exerted a clinically-important deleterious influence on left ventricular volumes or the ejection fraction. Forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume were worsened by propranolol but not by verapamil. Thus, in the patient with angina of effort, verapamil is a satisfactory therapeutic alternative to propranolol.
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