Aims: To assess the ability of clinical characteristics, admission ECG and continuous ST segment monitoring in determining long-term prognosis in unstable angina.
Methods: Two hundred and twelve patients with unstable angina (mean age 59 years), presenting within 24 h of an acute episode of angina were recruited at three hospitals and treated with standardized medical therapy. All patients kept chest pain charts and underwent ST segment monitoring for 48 h. The occurrence of death, myocardial infarction, and need for revascularization was assessed over a median follow-up of 2.6 years.
Results: The risk of death of myocardial infarction was greatest in the first 6-8 weeks after admission. Admission ECG ST depression and the presence of transient ischaemia predicted increased risk of subsequent death or myocardial infarction, whereas a normal ECG predicted a good prognosis. In 14 patients, ST segment monitoring provided the only evidence of recurrent ischaemia, and 72% of this group suffered an adverse event. Transient ischaemia and a history of hypertension were the most powerful independent predictors of death or myocardial infarction.
Conclusions: Adverse events in unstable angina occur early after admission and can be predicted by clinical and ECG characteristics, and by the presence of transient ischaemia during ST segment monitoring. Risk stratification by these simple assessments can identify patients with unstable angina at high risk.