Acute Coronary Syndrome

Immediate treatment can help prevent a heart attack.

JoAnne M. Foody, 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

CardioSmart News

Combined Drug Therapy Cuts Risk of Second Heart Attack

Mar 23, 2015

Study addresses the benefits of adding blood thinner ticagrelor to a preventive daily aspirin regimen.

CardioSmart News

Invasive Tests May Benefit Elderly Heart Patients

Mar 23, 2015
More conservative therapy isn’t necessarily the best option in older patients experiencing chest pain or heart attack.
CardioSmart News

Delays in Treatment Worsen Heart Attack Outcomes in Women

Mar 16, 2015

Women having heart attacks take longer to seek help and face greater risk of death than men.

CardioSmart News

Antidepressants Cut Heart Risks in Half

Mar 15, 2015
Study analyzes benefits of treatment for moderate to severe depression with and without statins.

What Kind of Exercise is Best for Waist Size?

Mar 13, 2015
Both low- and high-impact exercise help us lose weight, but each provides different types of added benefits.

Frailty Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Older Adults

Mar 10, 2015
Addressing early signs of frailty could help ward off heart conditions later in life.

Peanuts: A Low-Cost Food with a High Impact on Health

Mar 10, 2015
The humble legume offers heart-health benefits on par with more expensive nuts.

Moderate Physical Activity Benefits the Heart the Most

Feb 27, 2015

Study finds that women who exercise moderately—not strenuously—a few times a week have lower risk for heart attack and stroke.

Sauna Use Linked to Improved Heart Health

Feb 27, 2015
Study follows sauna bathers for over two decades and finds lower rates of sudden cardiac death among most frequent users.

Stress Hinders Heart Attack Recovery in Women

Feb 10, 2015

Stress helps explain differences in heart attack outcomes among men and women.

Survey: 1 in 3 Americans Prefers Shorter Life to Daily Pill

Feb 06, 2015

Researchers explore the uptake of a preventive heart disease medicine.

Running for Health? Moderation is Key

Feb 02, 2015

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap full benefits, according to a new study.

Study Questions Strict Sodium Guidelines for Older Adults

Jan 28, 2015

Reducing sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg a day may be excessive for older adults.

Shedding Light on a Mysterious Type of Heart Attack

Jan 28, 2015
MINOCA is a heart attack not resulting from narrowed arteries.

Ability to Process Nicotine Linked to Efficacy of Patch vs. Pill

Jan 26, 2015
How quickly smokers metabolize nicotine may impact whether the nicotine patch or Chantix works best, finds study.

Experts Emphasize the Importance of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Jan 26, 2015
Despite its value and importance, cardiac rehab is vastly underutilized by patients.

Few Patients Counseled on Sex after Heart Attack

Jan 12, 2015
Few doctors provide proper counseling about resuming sexual activity following a heart attack, despite recommendations.

Report Raises Awareness for Health Effects of Air Pollution

Dec 23, 2014
A thorough review of studies highlights the negative impact of air pollution on heart health.

Daily Aspirin Fails to Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Older Adults Free of Heart Disease

Dec 23, 2014
A large Japanese study finds no association between once-daily, low-dose aspirin and risk for heart attack, stroke or death in older adults.
CardioSmart News

New Plaque Test Helps Identify High-Risk Heart Patients

Dec 15, 2014
Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) helps identify heart disease patients at increased risk for heart attack and stroke, finds study.

Keeping Added Calories in Check: Sugars and Sweeteners

Dec 03, 2014
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans today consume nearly 20% more added sugar in their daily diet than they did 40 years ago.

New Drug Combination Improves Outcomes for Patients at High Risk for Heart Attack, Stroke

Nov 20, 2014
Adding the non-statin agent, ezetimibe, to traditional cholesterol-lowering therapy reduces risk in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Risks and Benefits of Extending Drug Treatment After Stent

Nov 20, 2014
Lengthening anti-clotting treatment after stent implantation may prevent heart attacks but increases risk of bleeding, finds new study.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Big-Name diets

Nov 19, 2014
No single big-name diet is superior when it comes to long-term weight loss, finds study.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Overlooked in Heart Patients

Nov 18, 2014
Secondhand smoke worsens outcomes for patients living with heart disease, but is often overlooked.

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