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

Researchers Abandon Trials of New Diabetes Drug

Apr 18, 2014
Clinical trials involving aleglitazar for patients with acute coronary syndrome are ended early due to safety concerns.
CardioSmart News

Stumbling Block in Attempt to Reduce Risk of Complications from Surgery

Apr 15, 2014
Aspirin and blood-pressure lowering medication fail to improve outcomes in surgical patients at risk for heart disease.
CardioSmart News

Diabetes Drug Ruled Out as Heart Attack Treatment

Apr 14, 2014
A common diabetes drug, metformin, failed to improve outcomes for non-diabetic patients after a heart attack.

Heart Attack Survival Rates Poorest in the South

Apr 04, 2014
Southerners more likely to die from heart attack than any other U.S. region, according to a recent study.

Fruits and Vegetables Help Lower Heart Attack Risk Later in Life

Mar 29, 2014
Women who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables during their 20s have healthier arteries later in life, finds study.

Secondhand Smoke Causes Permanent Damage to Children's Arteries

Mar 13, 2014
Exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood ages arteries later in life, study finds.

Losing Temper Increases Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke

Mar 11, 2014
Outbursts of anger may trigger heart attack or stroke within two hours, according to review of studies.

Losing a Loved One Can Increase Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Mar 07, 2014

While losing a spouse doubles 30-day risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a new study, the risk is still very low.

Sudden Death in College Athletes: Cause for Concern?

Feb 27, 2014
Ten-year study finds risk of sudden cardiac death among college athletes is actually lower than in the general population.

Improving America's Health through Active Transportation

Feb 26, 2014
Partners unite to promote active transportation across the country with new platform called “Safe Routes to Everywhere.”

Devices in Public Places Restart Hearts

Feb 21, 2014
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can help minimally trained bystanders save persons experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

Safety Concerns About Prescription Weight Loss Pills

Feb 20, 2014
Experts are concerned about the safety of two weight loss pills recently approved for use in the United States.

CVS to Stop Selling Cigarettes; Will Others Follow?

Feb 19, 2014
As CVS vows to eliminate cigarette and tobacco sales over the next year, experts hope other pharmacies will follow their lead to help reduce smoking rates nationwide.

Improving Medication Adherence in Heart Attack Patients

Feb 11, 2014
New support program helps patients adhere to a personalized treatment plan following a heart attack.

Improvements in Heart Patient Safety Among U.S. Hospitals

Feb 07, 2014
Study finds fewer complications among patients hospitalized for heart attack or heart failure between 2005 and 2011.

Fit Teens Have Lower Heart Attack Risk Later in Life

Jan 16, 2014
Study finds that fitness early in life helps reduce heart attack risk during adulthood.

Anti-Smoking Efforts Saved 8 Million Lives—and Counting

Jan 15, 2014
On the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s first report on smoking and health, study finds tobacco control efforts have increased life expectancy and saved millions of American lives.

Multivitamins Fail to Improve Memory in Older Men

Jan 10, 2014
Study findings suggest that daily multivitamins fail to prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

Exercise Reduces Risk of Cardiac Events in Heart Patients

Jan 10, 2014
High-risk patients who add in about 20 minutes of walking each day can lower their risk for a cardiac event by 10%.

Energy Drinks Increase the Heart's Contraction Rate

Dec 09, 2013
Study suggests that energy drinks may be unsafe for children and individuals with existing heart conditions, like an irregular heartbeat.

Does Chest Pain Differ Among Men and Women During a Heart Attack?

Dec 05, 2013
Study finds small differences in characteristics of chest pain by gender.
CardioSmart News

Taking Aspirin at Bedtime Decreases Heart Attack Risk

Nov 26, 2013
Taking aspirin before bed helps prevent blood clotting and reduces cardiovascular risk in heart attack patients.

Nut Consumption Linked to Longevity

Nov 26, 2013
Study finds that regular consumption of nuts could lower risk of death by as much as 20%.
CardioSmart News

It's Easier to Lose Weight with Family and Friends, Study Finds

Nov 25, 2013
Weight loss interventions in social networks are more effective than standard care.
CardioSmart News

Preschoolers Learn Heart-Healthy Lessons with 'Sesame Street'

Nov 25, 2013
Study finds heart-health messages in “Sesame Street” promote healthier behavior in preschool children.

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