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Angina, unstable - What will happen to me?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

If you've had an attack of unstable angina, you may feel anxious about your future. You may worry that you could have a heart attack. But most people recover well.

You will still need to take medicines, probably for the rest of your life. These medicines can relieve your chest pain and lower your risk of having a heart attack, a stroke, or other serious problems.[12][13]

The bad news is that having angina probably means that you have coronary artery disease. With this disease, the arteries that carry blood to your heart are narrowed, so less blood can get through. If an artery gets badly blocked, you can have a heart attack. Having angina means you are more likely to die early from a heart attack.[14]

What are my chances?

Doctors keep statistics on people who have problems like unstable angina. So, we know things like how many people die soon after an attack of unstable angina, how many people have a heart attack, and how many continue to have problems with their health.

A small percentage of people do die of a heart attack after getting unstable angina. However, more than 9 in 10 people who get treatment for unstable angina are still alive six months later. The idea of having a heart attack can be frightening, but bear in mind that statistics cannot tell you what will happen to you as an individual. You might be interested in reading these numbers, or you might prefer not to look at them. If you do read them, bear in mind they can't predict your future. They come from the experiences of large groups of people. They don't refer to you as an individual. For more, see Survival rates for unstable angina.

Doctors are always learning more about unstable angina, and treatments keep getting better. These days, doctors in the Accident and Emergency Department can quickly determine which people are at highest risk of getting worse. They can then give these people the intensive treatment they need. For more, see Unstable angina: working out your risk.

Making some changes in the way you live, such as stopping smoking and eating sensibly, may also help you live longer and stay in good health. For more, see Unstable angina: what you can do to help yourself.

How will unstable angina affect my life?

You may worry about doing your usual activities or enjoying life as normal. The good news is that, with the right treatment, many people with unstable angina can carry on with the things they enjoy.


Having angina may affect some kinds of work. For example, you may no longer be able to do a job that involves running heavy machinery or driving certain kinds of vehicles. Contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) for more information (

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Last Updated: March 13, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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