Author(s): Rapola JM, Virtamo J, Ripatti S, Haukka JK, Huttunen JK
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of alpha tocopherol and beta 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 alpha tocopherol beta carotene cancer prevention study primarily undertaken to examine the effects of alpha tocopherol and beta 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: alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) 50 mg/day, beta carotene 20 mg/day or both, or placebo in 2 x 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: alpha tocopherol only 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.85 to 1.33), alpha tocopherol and beta carotene 1.02 (0.82 to 1.27), beta 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 alpha tocopherol or beta carotene supplements in male smokers with angina pectoris, indicating no basis for therapeutic or preventive use of these agents in such patients.