Nicorandil: An Updated Review of its Use in Ischaemic Heart Disease with Emphasis on its Cardioprotective Effects

Markham, A.; Plosker, G.L.; Goa, K.L.
October 2000
Drugs;Oct2000, Vol. 60 Issue 4, p955
Academic Journal
Nicorandil is a drug with both nitrate-like and ATP-sensitive potassium-channel (K) activating properties. By virtue of this dual mechanism of action, the drug acts as a balanced coronary and peripheral vasodilator and reduces both preload and afterload. The K channel has been shown to be involved in the phenomenon of myocardial preconditioning, and studies in animal models of ischaemia-reperfusion-induced myocardial stunning or infarction indicate that nicorandil has cardio- protective effects. Studies in patients undergoing percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) have shown that the administration of nicorandil reduces ST-segment elevation during ischaemia. Nicorandil significantly improved the results of exercise tolerance tests versus baseline in patients with stable effort angina pectoris in early noncomparative trials. The drug also improved the results of exercise tolerance tests relative to placebo in early randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. In randomised, double-blind comparative studies in patients with angina pectoris, nicorandil has demonstrated equivalent efficacy, as measured by exercise tolerance testing, to isosorbide di- and mononitrate, metoprolol, propranolol, atenolol, diltiazem, amlodipine and nifedipine. The effects of nicorandil on various aspects of myocardial recovery from ischaemic damage caused by acute myocardial infarction have been investigated in the short term. Regional left ventricular (LV) wall motion, a marker of myocardial function, was significantly improved in nicorandil recipients relative to control. The main adverse event associated with nicorandil as treatment for angina pectoris is headache. This can be minimised by commencing nicorandil at a low dose in patients prone to headache. There have been infrequent case reports of mouth ulcers in patients receiving nicorandil; causality has not been conclusively established, but product prescribing information indicates that an alternative treatment should be considered if persistent aphthous or severe mouth ulceration occurs. Thus, nicorandil remains a useful background therapy for patients with angina pectoris. The drug has also demonstrated potential cardioprotective effects when used as part of an intervention strategy directly after acute myocardial infarction in high-risk patients. Further large scale longer term studies of nicorandil in this latter indication are awaited with interest.



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