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

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.
CardioSmart News

Same-Day Discharge after ICD Placement Shown to be Safe

Mar 11, 2015

With appropriate follow-up, eligible patients released the same day do just as well as those kept overnight.

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.
CardioSmart News

Angioplasty for Patients with Chronic Blockages Underutilized

Feb 17, 2015
Researchers in an almost 4-year study found that angioplasty for patients with chronic blockages made up only 3.8% of the total number of angioplasties performed for stable heart disease.

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.

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