Polyphenols, which are naturally present in plants, have been studied for their chemical and pharmacological properties. Polyphenols have been found to exhibit various bioactivities such as antioxidant, free radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to regulating the intracellular free calcium levels. These bioactivities are related to the underlying mechanisms of ischaemic heart diseases. Pharmacological studies have proven polyphenols to be effective in treating cardiovascular diseases in various ways, particularly ischaemic heart diseases. Based on their mode of action, we propose that some polyphenols can be developed as drugs to treat ischaemic heart diseases. For this purpose, a strategy to evaluate the therapeutic value of drugs for ischaemic heart diseases is needed. Despite several advances in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the incidence of myocardial infarction and deaths due to cardiovascular diseases has not decreased markedly in China. Due to their pleiotropic properties and structural diversity, polyphenols have been of great interest in pharmacology. In the present review, we summarize the pharmacological effects and mechanisms of polyphenols reported after 2000, and we analyse the benefits or druggability of these compounds for ischaemic heart diseases.