Nearly 10 million US adults experience stable angina, which occurs when myocardial oxygen supply does not meet demand, resulting in myocardial ischemia. Stable angina is associated with an average annual risk of 3% to 4% for myocardial infarction or death. Diagnostic tests and medical therapies for stable angina have evolved over the last decade with a better understanding of the optimal use of coronary revascularization.Coronary computed tomographic angiography is a first-line diagnostic test in the evaluation of patients with stable angina due to higher sensitivity and comparable specificity compared with imaging-based stress testing. Moreover, coronary computed tomographic angiography allows detection of nonobstructive atherosclerosis that would not be identified with other noninvasive imaging modalities, improving risk assessment and potentially triggering more appropriate allocation of preventive therapies. Novel therapies treating lipids (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 inhibitors, ezetimibe, and icosapent ethyl) and type 2 diabetes (sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists) have improved cardiovascular outcomes in patients with stable ischemic heart disease when added to usual care. Randomized clinical trials showed no improvement in the rates of mortality or myocardial infarction with revascularization (largely by percutaneous coronary intervention) compared with optimal medical therapy alone, even in the setting of moderate to severe ischemia. In contrast, revascularization provides a meaningful benefit on angina and quality of life compared with antianginal therapies. Measures of the effect of angina on a patient's quality of life should be integrated into the clinic encounter to assist with the decision to proceed with revascularization.For patients with stable angina, emphasis should be placed on optimizing lifestyle factors and preventive medications such as lipid-lowering and antiplatelet agents to reduce the risk for cardiovascular events and death. Antianginal medications, such as β-blockers, nitrates, or calcium channel blockers, should be initiated to improve angina symptoms. Revascularization with percutaneous coronary intervention should be reserved for patients in whom angina symptoms negatively influence quality of life, generally after a trial of antianginal medical therapy. Shared decision-making with an informed patient is important for effective treatment of stable angina.
Parag H Joshi, James A de Lemos