Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Angina pectoris-like pain provoked by intravenous adenosine in healthy volunteers.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: (Published 26 July 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:227
  1. C Sylvén,
  2. B Beermann,
  3. B Jonzon,
  4. R Brandt


    In a study to characterise the chest pain induced by adenosine this agent was given as a bolus into a peripheral vein to six healthy volunteers (five men) aged 30-44. On the first day the maximum tolerable dose was determined in each case. On the second day three doses of adenosine (one third, two thirds, and the full maximum tolerable dose) and three doses of saline were given single blind in randomised order. Thereafter aminophylline 5 mg/kg was given and the procedure repeated in a different randomised order. On the third day between two thirds and the full maximum tolerable dose was given followed by 10 mg dipyridamole intravenously and a second injection of the same dose of adenosine. Heart rate and atrioventricular blocks were recorded by electrocardiography. One minute after each dose of adenosine the chest pain was scored. The maximum tolerable dose of adenosine ranged from 10.6 to 37.1 mg. All subjects experienced uneasy central chest pain provoking anxiety. The pain radiated to the shoulders, ulnar aspect of the arms, epigastric area, back, and into the throat. The pain began about 20 seconds after the injection and lasted 10-15 seconds. Increasing the dose of adenosine increased the intensity of the pain. Administration of aminophylline reduced the pain significantly. Second degree heart block was recorded in five of the six subjects during the time that the pain was experienced. After aminophylline no block was observed. Dipyridamole increased the intensity of pain. The duration of second degree heart block increased in four of the subjects, and in two of these third degree heart block occurred. These findings suggest that adenosine released from the myocardium during ischaemia induces angina pectoris by stimulating theophylline sensitive receptors.