Unstable angina: good long-term outcome after a complicated early course
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Objectives. This study was performed to investigate the long-term outcome of patients with unstable angina within subgroups of the Braunwald classification. Background. Long-term follow-up studies of patients with unstable angina are rare and date from more than two decades ago. This study was performed to establish the prognosis of different subgroups of patients with unstable angina (Braunwald criteria) during a 7-year follow-up period. Methods. We registered a well defined group of 417 consecutive patients, admitted to the hospital for suspected unstable angina. The definite diagnosis was unstable angina in 282 patients (68%) and evolving myocardial infarction in 26; in 109 patients (26%), the symptoms were attributed to other or nonspecific causes. Patients with definite unstable angina were subclassified according to the Braunwald classification. Survival, survival without infarction and survival without infarction or intervention were determined for each class. Results. After a median follow-up period of 94 months, the mortality rate in the first year was 6% and 2% to 3% in the following years. The frequency of revascularization was 47% in the first year, and that for myocardial infarction was 11% in the first year and 1% to 3% thereafter. The Braunwald classification appeared to be appropriate for risk stratification in the first year. However, at 7 years the event rates in all classes were similar. In particular, the Braunwald classification had no long-term impact on mortality or infarction rates. However, patients with acute angina at rest or postinfarction angina and patients with extensive anginal treatment had high intervention rates. Conclusions. To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate that despite a complicated course during the first year, current management results in good long-term outcome in patients with unstable angina.