Unstable angina can be life-threatening because you
are at a very high risk of having a
heart attack. You might have unstable angina or the
beginning of a small heart attack if your angina is:
Occurring with little exertion or while you are
Occurring more often than usual.
longer than usual or lasting longer than 20 minutes.
New and occurring with only mild physical exertion.
If you have any symptoms of unstable angina, call your doctor or go to an emergency room immediately. Your doctor can use
electrocardiography (EKG, ECG) and do some blood tests
to see whether you are having a heart attack.
If you come to the hospital with unstable chest pain, it means that
your heart is not getting enough blood and oxygen. You may need emergency
treatment to improve the blood flow to your heart. If you need this kind of
treatment, you and your doctor will need to consider:
You can take medicines to relieve chest pain and stabilize your
condition. They can also help keep you stable until you have angioplasty or
bypass surgery if needed. Medicines include aspirin, heparin, antianginal
medicine (beta-blockers, nitrates, calcium channel blockers) and special
antiplatelet drugs (such as clopidogrel, eptifibatide, and tirofiban).
After your condition is stable
In general, it will take a few days in the hospital to stabilize
your condition. But even after you leave the hospital, you are still at
increased risk of having a heart attack in the future. It is very important
that you continue to take your medicines and follow a healthy lifestyle as
recommended by your doctor. To improve your long-term outcome and reduce the
risk of further anginal attacks and hospital stays, you will probably have
coronary angiography or stress testing before you are
released from the hospital. This will confirm the presence of heart disease and
help your doctor to determine the best future treatment plan for you. Future
treatment may include
coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery,
angioplasty with or without
stenting, or medicines alone.
Conditions that can cause angina attacks
Another medical condition may have brought about or triggered your
unstable angina. In this case, you need to treat the cause to prevent another
attack. Conditions that can cause unstable angina include:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.