Acute Coronary Syndrome

Immediate treatment can help prevent a heart attack.

Martha Gulati, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief

Know the symptoms

Your heart muscle needs oxygen and nutrients to work the way it should.

If the arteries supplying the heart (called the coronary arteries) become narrowed or blocked, the heart muscle can be starved of oxygen-rich blood. If this happens very suddenly, as is the case with heart attack, it can be very serious.

Acute coronary syndrome is a medical term used to describe problems that occur when there isn’t enough blood flow to the heart. Heart attack and unstable angina (sudden chest pain that typically occurs when someone is at rest) are two examples. 

If you are having a heart attack, you might feel pain or pressure in your chest; have shortness of breath; feel nauseated or have discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Dial 9-1-1 right away. Time is muscle. Every second you delay means more damage to your heart—it could also be the difference between life and death. 

The treatment you receive will depend on your symptoms and test results that can show how much your arteries are blocked. There are many things you can do to protect your future heart health. Use this condition center to learn more about acute coronary syndromes. You can keep up with the latest research, find questions to ask your doctor, and get tips to help you feel your best.

Acute Coronary Syndrome News & Events

Study Probes the Benefits of Routine Depression Screening in Heart Attack Survivors

Oct 28, 2019
Screening and treatment fails to improve outcomes among heart attack survivors.

Dog Owners Recover Better After Heart Events, Study Shows

Oct 21, 2019

The social support and physical activity that come with dog ownership can lead to better health outcomes after heart attack or stroke.

Lowering Triglycerides to Reduce Heart Risks

Oct 07, 2019

Study confirms cardiovascular benefits of lowering triglycerides with therapies including an omega-3 fatty acid.

Staying Young at Heart: It's Never Too Early to Start Healthy Habits

Oct 03, 2019

Expert recommendations help healthy individuals prevent heart disease.

Diet Soda and Sugary Drinks May Affect Lifespan, Study Finds

Sep 29, 2019
Two or more sodas a day shown to increase risk of death in nearly half a million Europeans.

Too Much and Too Little Sleep Increases Heart Attack Risk

Sep 17, 2019

Getting six to nine hours of sleep a night may reduce risk for heart attack.

Consumption of Plant-Based Proteins Could Add Years to Your Life

Sep 17, 2019

Study suggests that we eat plenty of plant-based foods, while limiting red and processed meat.

Not All Plant-Based Foods are Created Equal

Sep 13, 2019
Just because a food is vegetarian does not mean it promotes health and longevity. 

Binge Watching TV is Worse for the Heart Than a Desk Job

Jul 15, 2019

Study links TV watching, but not seated work, to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol Disorder Overlooked in Many Young Heart Attack Patients

Jun 19, 2019

Familial hypercholesterolemia is overlooked and undertreated.

Air Pollution Shortens Lifespan by Two Years

Jun 19, 2019

A new model suggests that death toll from air pollution is twice as high as initial estimates.

Study Supports Aggressive Blood Pressure Treatment in All Adults with Diabetes

Jun 04, 2019
Intensive blood pressure treatment isn't just for high-risk patients with type 2 diabetes.

Ability to Stand and Walk Helps Identify High-Risk Elderly Adults After Heart Attack

Jun 03, 2019

Experts develop a risk model to identify which elderly adults are likely to experience complications after a heart attack.

Implantable Monitor Identifies Heart Attacks Earlier, Reduces Delay in Treatment

May 01, 2019
“Symptom-to-door” time—how long it takes to get to hospital after symptoms arise—is reduced by nearly half in study of high-risk patients.
CardioSmart News

Interval Training Gets Patients in Shape After a Heart Attack

Apr 03, 2019
Workouts alternating between low- and high-intensity help patients in cardiac rehab trim excess abdominal fat.
CardioSmart News

Heart Attack Rates on the Rise in Young Adults

Mar 27, 2019

One in five young heart attack survivors is under 40.

Study Links E-Cigarettes to Heart Attacks, Heart Disease and Depression

Mar 07, 2019

U.S. survey study links e-cigarette use to increased risk for heart problems and a host of other health issues.

Flu Shot Helps Prevent Heart Attack

Mar 07, 2019
A study of 30 million patients shows the flu vaccination reduces risk for heart attack by 10% in patients after hospitalization.

Latest Statistics Say Nearly Half of Americans Have Some Form of Heart Disease

Feb 19, 2019
An annual report from the American Heart Association explains the rise in heart disease rates and emphasizes prevention.

Experts Highlight the Strong Link Between Depression and Heart Disease

Feb 19, 2019
Given high rates of depression among heart patients, experts encourage better screening and treatment for mental health.

Smoking, Hypertension and High Cholesterol are Common in Young Adults Suffering First Heart Attack

Feb 07, 2019
Nearly all 1.5 million study participants had at least one modifiable risk factor.

A New Tool Helps Predict Heart-Health Benefits from Diabetes Treatment

Jan 22, 2019
Risk prediction tool could aid patients in treatment decisions for type 2 diabetes.

Study Supports Enhanced Screening Prior to Invasive Heart Disease Imaging

Jan 10, 2019

Better screening could reduce unnecessary tests and procedures in patients being evaluated for heart disease, study finds.

Women Wait Longer to Seek Treatment for Heart Attack, Study Finds

Jan 10, 2019

Experts urge women to call 911 at first signs of heart attack, based on study that highlights delays in treatment.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk for Heart Events in Women

Dec 19, 2018
Study finds that the Mediterranean diet reduces cardiovascular risk by minimizing inflammation, controlling blood sugar and promoting a healthy weight.