Researchers may have found a cheaper and more effective alternative drug to help relieve angina.
Scientists at Dundee University have found allopurinol, typically used to treat gout, appears to block an enzyme called xanthine oxidase which in turn reduces the energy needs of the heart.
A study of 65 angina patients found those who took allopurinol could exercise for longer without suffering from chest pains.
Professor Allan Struthers said although effective treatments are already available, they could be costly and might not work for every patient.
He told the Lancet journal: “On the basis of our results, allopurinol is a useful anti-ischaemic treatment option in patients with angina that has the advantage of being inexpensive, well tolerated and safe in the long term.
“The precise place of allopurinol in the management of angina pectoris now needs to be explored further, but this drug might be especially appealing for use in developing countries where coronary artery disease is rapidly increasing in frequency and where access to expensive drugs or invasive treatments (angioplasty and bypass surgery) is often restricted.”
Some two million people in the UK suffer from angina, which is the most common symptom of heart disease.
Copyright Press Association 2010