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

Flu Vaccine Critical for People with Heart Disease

Oct 25, 2016
Experts argue that the flu vaccine could be life-saving.

Exercising While Angry Increases Risk for Heart Attack

Oct 20, 2016

The effects of extreme emotion and vigorous exercise on the heart are multiplied when combined.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 17, 2016

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., in March 2017!

Young Adults—Especially Women—May Lose Interest in Sex After Heart Attack

Oct 01, 2016
High stress levels and diabetes significantly increased patients’ chances of experiencing sex problems in the year after heart attack.

ACC Partners with Google to Share Reliable Heart Health Information

Sep 20, 2016
“Ask a Doctor” feature promotes patient-provider engagement.

The Importance of Promoting Heart Health in Children

Sep 17, 2016
Experts highlight early education about heart health for prevention later in life.

Despite Statins, Familial Hypercholesterolemia Doubles Risk for Second Heart Attack

Aug 27, 2016

Study authors emphasize screening for the genetic disorder that causes dangerously high cholesterol.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Attack

Aug 02, 2016

Three or more servings of chocolate a week reduces risk of heart attack, finds study.

Sleep Deprivation Takes a Toll on Heart Health

Jul 28, 2016

Many studies show that a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on heart health, but few have determined why.

CardioSmart News

Treatment Lags for Heart Attack Patients With Prior Surgery

Jun 30, 2016
Patients with history of angioplasty or who had no previous interventions are treated faster, study finds.
CardioSmart News

Cardiogenic Shock Increases Risk for Heart Patients

Jun 30, 2016
Study shows higher risk of death or rehospitalization in first 60 days after discharge; gap narrows after one year.
CardioSmart News

Death Rate Rises Among Heart Attack Patients With Cardiogenic Shock

Jun 30, 2016
In-hospital outcomes not improving despite use of state-of-the-art measures.

"Silent" Heart Attacks Common in Middle-Aged Adults

Jun 23, 2016
Nearly half of all heart attacks go unnoticed.

Patients Shy Away From Sex After a Heart Attack, Study Finds

Jun 18, 2016
Despite being safe for most patients, many adults with heart disease avoid sexual activity.

Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Against Heart Attack and Stroke

Jun 15, 2016
Researchers highlight the importance of choosing wholesome foods rather than avoiding nutrient-poor foods.

Night Shifts Take a Toll on Heart Health

Jun 13, 2016
A study on U.S. female nurses finds that overnight work increases risk for heart attack.
CardioSmart News

Recent Study Supports Statins to Prevent Heart Disease

May 24, 2016

A large international trial finds statins to be most effective for heart disease prevention.

CardioSmart News

Stress Tests Less Useful for Assessing Heart Disease in Women than Men

May 22, 2016

Cardiac imaging proves more useful than stress tests for determining heart risk in women, finds study.

CardioSmart News

Virtual Health Programs Could Improve Global Health

May 22, 2016
An online challenge promotes physical activity and weight loss in over 60 countries.
CardioSmart News

Striking Trends Show Heart Attack Patients are Getting Younger, More Obese

May 11, 2016

Experts emphasize addressing cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes earlier in life.

Heart Disease Burden Has Shifted to Southern U.S. States

May 04, 2016

The highest death rates from heart disease have shifted to the South since the 1970s.

CardioSmart News

Investigating the Link Between Depression and Heart Attack

Apr 23, 2016

Study highlights the need to improve diagnosis and treatment for depression in heart patients.

CardioSmart News

Immediate Beta Blocker Treatment Fails to Improve Heart Attack Outcomes

Apr 23, 2016

Beta blockers fail to reduce permanent tissue damage after a heart attack, but may have other benefits.

Heavy Drinking Heightens Immediate Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke

Mar 16, 2016
The protective benefits of alcohol only come with moderation.

Decline in Dementia Rates Over Past Three Decades

Mar 08, 2016

Study analyzed data on trends in older adults in the Framingham Heart Study.

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