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Traditional Chinese medicines in the management of cardiovascular diseases: A comprehensive systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Early online date17 Jun 2016
Accepted/In press11 May 2016
E-pub ahead of print17 Jun 2016


King's Authors


Aims: The aim was to perform a systematic review of the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) in cardiovascular disease. 

Methods: Electronic databases were searched up to 11 November 2015 for all randomized-controlled trials evaluating the effect of TCM in hypertension, ischaemic stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) were calculated using a fixed-effects model. 

Results: Four hypertension studies were eligible for statistical analysis and included 133 patients receiving TCM and 130 control patients. There were significant reductions in systolic blood pressure in patients receiving TCM, comparable to results achieved with pharmaceutical medicines. An OR of 3.781 (95% confidence interval 2.392, 5.977; P = 0.000) was observed for the anti-hypertensive effect of TCM. Significant heterogeneity was present (P = 0.011), with a tendency towards publication bias that did not reach significance (P = 0.05275). Outcome measures for other cardiovascular diseases were inconsistent. 

Conclusions: Certain TCM compounds appear to have significant anti-hypertensive effects, and although some are associated in some studies with improved outcomes in coronary heart disease, heart failure and type 2 diabetes mellitus, the data are inconsistent and will require large-scale randomized-controlled trials to allow full evaluation of any potential therapeutic benefit in these areas.

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