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May 27, 1950


Author Affiliations

Staten Island, N. Y.

From the Cardiovascular Research Unit, Department of Medicine, United States Marine Hospital, Staten Island, N. Y.; consultant in cardiovascular disease (Dr. Russek).

JAMA. 1950;143(4):355-357. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910390027008

Alcohol has been regarded as a valuable drug in the treatment of angina pectoris since the earliest description of the disease by Heberden1 in 1786. It is rated by most contemporary authorities as one of the few effective coronary vasodilators, second only to the nitrites.2 Indeed, the effect of 1 or 2 ounces (30 to 60 cc.) of whisky or brandy in terminating an anginal attack is said to be comparable in many instances to the results obtained with glyceryl trinitrate. Nevertheless, it is in the prevention rather than in the treatment of these episodes that alcohol has been deemed of particular clinical value.2b Physicians frequently prescribe it in angina pectoris as a routine prophylactic measure and especially before contemplated effort or excitement.

In spite of such wide therapeutic endorsement, surprisingly little is known regarding the actual effect of alcohol on disturbances of coronary blood flow in