Calcium antagonists and stunned myocardium: Importance for clinicians?

Karin Przyklenk, Robert A. Kloner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Experimental evidence indicates that calcium antagonists enhance the recovery of contractile function in canine myocardium stunned by a brief, 15-minute episode of transient coronary artery occlusion. In fact, both nifedipine and verapamil have been shown to improve systolic contraction, even when treatment was delayed, that is, when the agents were administered 30 minutes after reperfusion. The beneficial effects of delayed treatment were not a consequence of myocardial high-energy phosphate preservation. Furthermore, as low-dose intracoronary nifedipine enhanced the recovery of function in the absence of systemic hemodynamic or coronary vasodilatory effects, the improved function associated with delayed administration of calcium antagonists could not be attributed solely to afterload reduction or increased coronary blood flow. These data suggest that calcium-channel blockers exert a direct effect on the previously ischemic tissue, perhaps by subtle modulation of calcium transport or flux within the stunned myocytes. Although the precise mechanism of action of these agents remain unresolved, these intriguing experimental results raise the possibility that calcium antagonists may provide a clinically useful means of attenuating postischemic dysfunction of viable myocardium salvaged by thrombolysis, angioplasty, or cardiopulmonary bypass. The potential role of calcium-channel blockers in these clinical instances of stunned myocardium awaits further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-951
Number of pages5
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1991


  • contractile function
  • diltiazem
  • myocardial ischemia
  • nifedipine
  • reperfusion
  • verapamil


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