Send to

Choose Destination
J Emerg Med. 2003 Nov;25(4):427-37.

The use of benzodiazepines in the treatment of chest pain: a review of the literature.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Benzodiazepines, although not listed in the American Heart Association's guidelines for the treatment of chest pain, are often used to provide symptomatic relief to patients who experience chest pain. To investigate the utility of benzodiazepines in the treatment of chest pain, the pharmacologic actions and cardiovascular effects of benzodiazepines were reviewed. In addition, a literature search regarding the use of benzodiazepines to treat patients with chest pain was conducted. The results indicated that benzodiazepines reduce anxiety, pain, and cardiovascular activation. Benzodiazepines amplify gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) throughout the central nervous system, and act more peripherally to reduce catecholamines. In addition, preliminary evidence indicates that benzodiazepines may cause coronary vasodilatation, prevent dysrhythmias, and block platelet aggregation, though further study is needed. Both non-cardiac chest pain (associated with musculoskeletal, esophageal, neurologic, and psychiatric conditions) and cardiac chest pain (associated with acute and chronic myocardial ischemia) seem to be effectively treated with benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are safe and well tolerated when administered alone or in combination with other medications. Moreover, the risk of dependence is minimal when benzodiazepines are prescribed on a short-term basis. Further study of benzodiazepines in the treatment of acute chest pain is needed to confirm these favorable actions and better define their use in the acute medical setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center