Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of morbidity
and mortality worldwide that seriously affect patient’s life quality and are responsible for
huge economic and social burdens. It is widely accepted that a plant-based diet may reduce
the risk of CVDs by attenuating several risk factors and/or modulating disease’s onset and
progression. Plants are rich in secondary metabolites, being terpenes the most abundant and
structurally diverse group. These compounds have shown broad therapeutic potential as antimicrobial,
antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antitumor agents. Despite their popularity, scientific
evidence on terpenes cardiovascular effects remains sparse, limiting their potential use as
cardioprotective and/or cardiotherapeutic agents.
Objective: Bearing in mind the lack of comprehensive and systematic studies, the present review
aims to gather the knowledge and some of the most scientific evidence accumulated
over the past years on the effect of terpenes in the cardiovascular field with focus on CVDs
namely ischemic heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias and hypertension.
Method: Several popular search engines including PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus and Google
Scholar were consulted. The bibliographic research focused primarily on English written
papers published over the last 15 years.
Results: A systematic and comprehensive update on the cardiovascular effects of terpenes is
provided. Moreover, whenever known, the possible mechanisms of action underlying the cardiovascular
effects are pointed out as well as an attempt to identify the most relevant structure-
activity relationships of the different classes of terpenes.
Conclusion: Overall, this review enables a better understanding of the cardiovascular effects
of terpenes, thus paving the way towards future research in medicinal chemistry and rational