Unstable angina pectoris may be manifested as new-onset angina, a change in the anginal pattern, pain at rest with associated electrocardiographic (ECG) changes, or postinfarction angina. Of these, pain at rest with ischemic ECG changes is known to be associated with the poorest prognosis. The pathogenesis of unstable angina pectoris involves a combination of a fixed atherosclerotic obstruction and a dynamic component related to coronary vasoconstriction, thrombus formation, or both. Long-acting nitrates, inhibitors of platelet aggregation, β blockers, and calcium antagonists are among the agents that have been shown to be effective in the medical management of unstable angina. A study now in progress is evaluating the routine use of thrombolytic therapy for this indication. Although alleviation of symptoms and prevention of death and myocardial infarction are important therapeutic goals, the overall efficacy of a particular medical therapy can best be assessed by objective evaluation of its ability to control ischemia, using such techniques as exercise scintigraphy and ambulatory ECG monitoring. Cardiac catheterization and revascularization are indicated for patients with unstable angina who continue to experience symptoms or who show evidence of silent ischemia despite medical therapy. A study is under way to determine the advisability of routine revascularization of such patients. Revascularization will provide symptomatic relief in most patients wtth unstable angina and may prolong survival and improve left ventricular function in certain subsets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine