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Traditional Chinese medication for cardiovascular disease

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 02 April 2015

This article has been updated

Key Points

  • Compared with no intervention or placebo, traditional Chinese medication (TCM) lowers blood pressure, reduces coronary event rates in patients with myocardial infarction, and lessens angina and myocardial ischaemia severity

  • TCM has antitachycardic and antibradycardic effects in patients with cardiac arrhythmias, compared with no intervention or placebo

  • The severity of cardiac dysfunction was ameliorated with TCM in patients with heart failure compared with no intervention or placebo

  • Compared with Western medication, TCM has similar therapeutic effects in patients with hypertension and better effects in patients with angina pectoris or cardiac arrhythmias

  • Adverse effect rates were similar between TCM and control groups, similar between TCM and Western medication in patients with hypertension, but lower for TCM in patients with coronary heart disease

  • The quality of studies is poor, and large-scale, high-quality randomized clinical trials are need to clarify whether TCM can contribute to reducing all-cause mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events

Abstract

Traditional Chinese medication (TCM) is increasingly used to treat cardiovascular disease (CVD) in China and some other Asian countries. However, therapeutic efficacy and adverse effects of TCM are difficult to evaluate because few large-scale, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) enrolling patients with CVD have been performed. In this Review, we critically examine the current evidence on the cardiovascular effects of TCM. We reviewed 68 RCTs that included a total of 16,171 patients. The methodological quality of the trials was generally low. Only three reports described adverse cardiovascular events specifically, although in most studies TCM was associated with significant improvements in surrogate end points for hypertension, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure. The risk of adverse effects was not increased compared with no intervention, placebo, or Western medications. However, whether TCM is effective in reducing the all-cause or cardiovascular mortality in patients with CVD remains unknown and must be tested in large-scale RCTs with adverse cardiovascular events as primary end points.

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Figure 1: Selection of randomized, controlled trials.

Change history

  • 02 April 2015

    In the version of this article initially published online and in print, reference 26 was incorrect. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

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Acknowledgements

All authors are supported by grants from National 973 Basic Research Program (2010CB732605, 2011CB503906, 2012CB518603, 2013CB530703), National Hightech Research and Development Program of China (2012AA02A510), Program of Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities (B07035), the State Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China for Innovative Research Group (81321061), International Collaboration and Exchange Program of China (81320108004), the State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (61331001), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81400284).

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P.-P.H., Y.-X.Z., and Y.Z. made substantial contribution to discussion of the article content, wrote, reviewed, and edited the manuscript before submission. Y.-G.C, K.Z., M.-X.Z., C.Z. wrote, reviewed and edited the manuscript before submission. J.Y. made substantial contribution to discussion of the content and wrote the manuscript. F.J. made substantial contribution to discussion of the content.

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Correspondence to Yu-Xia Zhao.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Table 1

Characteristics of the randomized controlled trials included in the Review (DOC 155 kb)

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Hao, PP., Jiang, F., Chen, YG. et al. Traditional Chinese medication for cardiovascular disease. Nat Rev Cardiol 12, 115–122 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrcardio.2014.177

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