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Effects of α tocopherol and β carotene supplements on symptoms, progression, and prognosis of angina pectoris
  1. J M Rapolaa,
  2. J Virtamoa,
  3. S Ripattia,
  4. J K Haukkaa,
  5. J K Huttunena,
  6. D Albanesb,
  7. P R Taylorb,
  8. O P Heinonenc
  1. aNational Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland, bNational Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA, cDepartment of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Dr J M Rapola, National Public Health Institute, Department of Nutrition, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300, Helsinki, Finland. email: Janne.Rapola{at}


Objective To evaluate the effects of α tocopherol and β carotene supplements on recurrence and progression of angina symptoms, and incidence of major coronary events in men with angina pectoris.

Design Placebo controlled clinical trial.

Setting The Finnish α tocopherol β carotene cancer prevention study primarily undertaken to examine the effects of α tocopherol and β carotene on cancer.

Subjects Male smokers aged 50–69 years who had angina pectoris in the Rose chest pain questionnaire at baseline (n = 1795).

Interventions α tocopherol (vitamin E) 50 mg/day, β carotene 20 mg/day or both, or placebo in 2 × 2 factorial design.

Main outcome measures Recurrence of angina pectoris at annual follow up visits when the questionnaire was readministered; progression from mild to severe angina; incidence of major coronary events (non-fatal myocardial infarction and fatal coronary heart disease).

Results There were 2513 recurrences of angina pectoris during follow up (median 4 years). Compared to placebo, the odds ratios for recurrence in the active treatment groups were: α tocopherol only 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.85 to 1.33), α tocopherol and β carotene 1.02 (0.82 to 1.27), β carotene only 1.06 (0.84 to 1.33). There were no significant differences in progression to severe angina among the groups given supplements or placebo. Altogether 314 major coronary events were observed during follow up (median 5.5 years) and the risk for them did not differ significantly among the groups given supplements or placebo.

Conclusions There was no evidence of beneficial effects for α tocopherol or β carotene supplements in male smokers with angina pectoris, indicating no basis for therapeutic or preventive use of these agents in such patients.

  • antioxidants
  • angina pectoris
  • prevention
  • vitamin supplements

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