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

A History of Trauma Places Women at Increased Cardiovascular Risk

Jul 28, 2015
Traumatic events like physical assault and childhood abuse are linked to a nearly 50% increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Jul 01, 2015
Moderate chocolate consumption helps, not harms, cardiovascular health.

Action, Not Advice, Helps Smokers Quit

Jun 25, 2015
Creating a quit plan and providing tools for ongoing support is more effective than education alone in helping smokers quit.

Education and Income Closely Linked to Heart Disease Risk in African-Americans

Jun 15, 2015
Findings suggest that the lifestyle factors that come with higher income can reduce risk for heart attack and stroke.

Cash Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Jun 03, 2015
Rewards-based programs are much more appealing than deposit-based programs, which require smokers to risk their own money.

Low-Dose Aspirin Safest for Heart Attack Survivors

Jun 03, 2015
Study finds low-dose aspirin is just as effective and carries less risk of complications than high-dose aspirin in heart attack patients.

Few Patients Well-Informed When Considering Heart Procedure to Relieve Chest Pain

May 29, 2015

When patients are well-educated about the decision, fewer decide to undergo the procedure.

Strong Grip Indicates Better Heart Health

May 29, 2015
Grip strength is a simple and affordable way to assess health, including risk for heart disease and stroke.

Complications From Heart Drugs More Common in Women than Men

May 26, 2015

Gender differences in the safety and efficacy of heart drugs are widely overlooked despite women having increased risk of complications.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Memory and Brain Function

May 26, 2015
A diet rich in olive oil and nuts may improve brain function and reduce risk for dementia.

Obese Teens at High Risk for Heart Disease

May 12, 2015
Study finds that by the age of 17, most obese teens are facing potential heart problems later in life.

A National Plan to Get America Moving

May 11, 2015

Proposed changes to our physical and social environments encourage regular physical activity for Americans throughout the course of the day.

Detecting Clogged Arteries to Potentially Prevent Heart Disease

May 02, 2015

3–D testing finds nearly two-thirds of healthy, middle-aged adults have early signs of heart disease.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare for Adults Engaged in Sports

Apr 23, 2015

Study highlights the benefits of exercise and sports in middle-aged adults, as well as CPR training.

Is There an Exercise 'Sweet Spot' for Longer Life?

Apr 23, 2015
Two large-scale studies take a close look at meeting or exceeding current exercise guidelines, but one thing is clear: Any physical activity is far better than none.

Heart Attack Risk Especially High Among Divorced Women

Apr 17, 2015
Even women who remarried had 35% greater heart attack risk than those who were continuously married.

Strategies for Combatting Childhood Obesity

Apr 07, 2015
Early lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to stop growing childhood obesity rates.

Children of Smokers Have Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Apr 03, 2015

Quitting is the best approach for the health of the family, but limiting children’s exposure to smoke can help.

Exercise Prevents Fall Injuries in Older Women

Apr 03, 2015

Finnish study assesses the effects of Vitamin D and strength training in women prone to falling.

CardioSmart News

Short Hospital Stays after Angioplasty Are Often Sufficient for Older Patients

Mar 31, 2015
Study finds patients 65 or older discharged from the hospital as early as 48 hours after angioplasty following a heart attack have similar outcomes as those who stay four-to-five days.
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.

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