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

New Plaque Test Helps Identify High-Risk Heart Patients

Dec 15, 2014
Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) helps identify heart disease patients at increased risk for heart attack and stroke, finds study.

Keeping Added Calories in Check: Sugars and Sweeteners

Dec 03, 2014
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans today consume nearly 20% more added sugar in their daily diet than they did 40 years ago.

New Drug Combination Improves Outcomes for Patients at High Risk for Heart Attack, Stroke

Nov 20, 2014
Adding the non-statin agent, ezetimibe, to traditional cholesterol-lowering therapy reduces risk in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Risks and Benefits of Extending Drug Treatment After Stent

Nov 20, 2014
Lengthening anti-clotting treatment after stent implantation may prevent heart attacks but increases risk of bleeding, finds new study.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Big-Name diets

Nov 19, 2014
No single big-name diet is superior when it comes to long-term weight loss, finds study.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Overlooked in Heart Patients

Nov 18, 2014
Secondhand smoke worsens outcomes for patients living with heart disease, but is often overlooked.

Lupus Linked to Congenital Heart Defects

Nov 13, 2014
Study finds that women with lupus are almost 3 times more likely to have a child with a congenital heart defect.

Study Reveals Paradox of Cigarette Sales in Pharmacies

Oct 31, 2014
Patients at risk of smoking-related diseases often purchase cigarettes at the same pharmacy used to fill prescription medications.

Healthy Fats Lower Cholesterol, Despite Weight Gain

Oct 23, 2014
Healthy fats help offset the negative impact of weight gain on heart health, finds a recent study.

Rapid Weight Loss is Not So Bad, After All

Oct 23, 2014
Gradual vs. rapid weight loss has little impact on long-term weight control.

Keeping Radiation to a Minimum for Heart Patients

Oct 10, 2014
With radiation exposure a hot topic in recent years, here are strategies for enhancing radiation safety in heart imaging.

Social Support Boosts Recovery after Heart Attack

Oct 10, 2014
Support from family and friends is crucial to improving outcomes and quality of life after a heart attack.

Childhood Risk Factors Have Lifelong Impact on Heart Health

Oct 10, 2014
Weight and blood pressure during childhood have a long-lasting impact on heart function later in life.

4 in 5 Heart Attacks Could be Prevented with Healthy Lifestyle

Oct 03, 2014
Simple choices like staying active and eating healthy go a long way in preventing heart attacks, finds Swedish study.

As Time Passes, Bleeding Risk Decreases for Heart Attack Patients

Oct 03, 2014
After a year free of any heart events, heart attack patients have significantly lower risk of bleeding complications, finds study.

Obesity Rates Plateau in U.S., but Waistlines Continue to Expand

Sep 24, 2014
More than half of American adults have abdominal obesity, according to national trends from the last decade.

Do You Know Your Heart-Health ABC's?

Sep 24, 2014
Improving heart health just got a little bit simpler, thanks to the ABC’s of heart disease prevention.

Self-Management Improves Outcomes for Patients with Heart Valve Implants

Sep 23, 2014
Empowering patients with heart valve implants to manage their own health reduces risk of complications, finds study.

New Guidelines for Heart Attack Treatment

Sep 23, 2014
Revised guidelines help ensure that patients receive the best possible care based on the latest research and evidence.

Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Adults

Sep 19, 2014
A recent scientific statement weighed the pros and cons of using tests in healthy individuals between 12-25 years old.

Aspirin Offers Safe, Affordable Option to Prevent Blood Clots

Sep 12, 2014
A new study confirms that aspirin is a safe and effective treatment for patients with a history of venous thromboembolism.

Weight Watchers and Atkins Equally as Effective

Sep 05, 2014
There’s little difference between trademarked diet programs, finds new study.

Less Educated Smokers Have Greatest Stroke Risk

Sep 05, 2014
Traditional risk factors for stroke are especially dangerous in poorly educated adults, finds study.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Patient Contest

Sep 02, 2014

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip to San Diego, CA.

Coca-Cola Family Track Walk in Richmond, VA

Aug 29, 2014
A fellow of the American College of Cardiology will be at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 6 to share tips on heart health and the benefits of an active lifestyle.

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