Unstable angina can manifest as an array of symptom complexes. In some patients, medical therapy will stabilize the episodes of angina, and only predismissal exercise testing or angiography (or both) will be necessary. At the other end of the spectrum are patients with rest angina or multiple episodes of silent ischemia who are refractory to medical therapy and experience undetected microinfarction. Most of these patients require immediate catheterization and subsequent intervention with intra-aortic balloon pulsation, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or coronary artery bypass grafting. An entire spectrum of manifestations exists between these two extremes. One challenge during the 1990s will be better stratification of patients with unstable angina so that safe, efficient, cost-effective treatment strategies can be appropriately applied to all patients.
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