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

Texting Programs Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Chronic Disease

Feb 26, 2016
A recent study suggests that text messaging programs double the odds of medication adherence in adults with chronic disease.

Simple Tests Help Assess Risk for Heart Disease

Feb 09, 2016
Other health markers besides traditional risk factors can shed light on risk and treatment.

Improving Heart Attack Treatment and Prevention in Women

Feb 09, 2016

Experts address key heart attack differences in men and women.

Safety of Testosterone Therapy Remains Uncertain for Many Patients

Feb 02, 2016
Use of testosterone in older men and men living with heart disease remains controversial.

Gum Disease Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Attack

Jan 28, 2016

Inflammation associated with gum disease is likely to blame, but further research is needed to understand the relationship.

Too Little Exercise Remains a Prime Concern for Americans

Jan 18, 2016
Experts reaffirm that health benefits from exercise far outweigh risks.

Heart Attack Risk Linked to Gender, Not Sex

Jan 11, 2016

In young adults with acute coronary syndrome, feminine qualities increase risk for heart events, regardless of sex.

Cardiac Rehab is Lifesaving for Heart Patients

Jan 10, 2016

Exercise-based rehab programs reduce risk for heart-related death by 26%.

Heart Disease Remains Top Killer in the United States

Jan 10, 2016

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, highlighting an urgent need for prevention and treatment.

Optimism Protects Patients from Hospital Readmission After Heart Attack

Dec 16, 2015
Having a positive attitude may be an important part of recovery.

Negative Press for Statins Discourages Patients from Taking Their Meds

Dec 11, 2015

Not taking cholesterol-lowering statins as prescribed means higher risk for heart attack and death.

Women with Diabetes Especially Vulnerable to Heart Risks from Air Pollution

Dec 09, 2015
Fine particulate matter is unhealthy for all but especially for women with diabetes.

Regular Exercise Prevents Heart Disease in Elderly Adults

Dec 02, 2015

You’re never too old to exercise, according to a study linking regular physical activity to reduced risk for heart attack, stroke and death in adults over 75.

Declines in U.S. Death Rates Have Slowed

Nov 19, 2015
Researchers measure progress on heart disease and other leading causes of death, and identify areas for improvement.

Low-Fat Diets Not the Best Weight Loss Solution

Nov 19, 2015

A review of more than 50 clinical trials comparing low- versus higher-fat diets shows no significant difference in weight loss results.

Fruits and Vegetables Help Reduce Future Heart Risk

Nov 10, 2015
Eating fruits and veggies in your 20s and 30s reduces risk for heart disease later in life, finds study.

Young Adults, Especially Women, Don't Know Their Risk for Heart Disease

Oct 26, 2015

Only half of young adults suffering a heart attack knew they were at risk, finds study.

African-American Veterans Healthier Than White Counterparts

Oct 22, 2015

Analysis of VA data stands in contrast to health disparities in the general U.S. population.

Experts Call for More Research on Microvascular Disease—A ‘Woman’s Problem’

Oct 22, 2015
Better diagnosis and treatment are needed for this heart condition that is often overlooked.

Women Less Likely to Take Medication to Prevent Second Heart Attack

Oct 21, 2015
Women are either less likely than men to receive a prescription for preventive medication or to fill the prescription.

Alcohol-Related Injury and Disease Pose Global Health Concern

Oct 20, 2015
Excessive drinking is a major public health issue in high- and low-income countries alike.

Music Boosts Heart Health

Oct 13, 2015
Music’s effect on heart activity, blood pressure and breathing bodes well for health.

A Healthy Lifestyle in Midlife Makes for Healthier Golden Years

Oct 13, 2015

The benefits of healthy choices carry long into older adulthood.

Measuring Calcium Build-Up Helps Predict Risk for Heart Disease

Oct 07, 2015
New risk calculations include coronary artery calcification in addition to factors like age, cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking status.

Blacks Have Shorter Life Expectancy After Heart Attack Than Whites

Oct 06, 2015
The largest gaps in life expectancy among study participants occurred in higher income areas.

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