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

Improving Medication Adherence in Heart Attack Patients

Feb 11, 2014
New support program helps patients adhere to a personalized treatment plan following a heart attack.

Improvements in Heart Patient Safety Among U.S. Hospitals

Feb 07, 2014
Study finds fewer complications among patients hospitalized for heart attack or heart failure between 2005 and 2011.

Fit Teens Have Lower Heart Attack Risk Later in Life

Jan 16, 2014
Study finds that fitness early in life helps reduce heart attack risk during adulthood.

Anti-Smoking Efforts Saved 8 Million Lives—and Counting

Jan 15, 2014
On the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s first report on smoking and health, study finds tobacco control efforts have increased life expectancy and saved millions of American lives.

Multivitamins Fail to Improve Memory in Older Men

Jan 10, 2014
Study findings suggest that daily multivitamins fail to prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

Exercise Reduces Risk of Cardiac Events in Heart Patients

Jan 10, 2014
High-risk patients who add in about 20 minutes of walking each day can lower their risk for a cardiac event by 10%.

Energy Drinks Increase the Heart's Contraction Rate

Dec 09, 2013
Study suggests that energy drinks may be unsafe for children and individuals with existing heart conditions, like an irregular heartbeat.

Does Chest Pain Differ Among Men and Women During a Heart Attack?

Dec 05, 2013
Study finds small differences in characteristics of chest pain by gender.
CardioSmart News

Taking Aspirin at Bedtime Decreases Heart Attack Risk

Nov 26, 2013
Taking aspirin before bed helps prevent blood clotting and reduces cardiovascular risk in heart attack patients.

Nut Consumption Linked to Longevity

Nov 26, 2013
Study finds that regular consumption of nuts could lower risk of death by as much as 20%.
CardioSmart News

It's Easier to Lose Weight with Family and Friends, Study Finds

Nov 25, 2013
Weight loss interventions in social networks are more effective than standard care.
CardioSmart News

Preschoolers Learn Heart-Healthy Lessons with 'Sesame Street'

Nov 25, 2013
Study finds heart-health messages in “Sesame Street” promote healthier behavior in preschool children.

Registry Programs Improve Quality of Care and Outcomes

Nov 18, 2013
Lessons learned from the American Heart Association’s “Get With The Guidelines” program.

Sleep Apnea Hinders Recovery After Heart Attack

Nov 18, 2013
Study finds sleep-disordered breathing impairs healing after a heart attack.

Sudden Cardiac Death Rare in Women

Nov 13, 2013
Study finds that sports-related sudden cardiac death is much lower in women compared to men.

FDA Targets Trans Fat in Processed Foods

Nov 07, 2013
The FDA has issued a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils—the major dietary source of trans fat in processed food—are no longer "generally recognized as safe."

Take Our "Thanks for Quitting" Challenge

Nov 01, 2013
CardioSmart's "Thanks for Quitting" Challenge is here to help you become smoke-free on or after the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 21.

Flu Shot Curbs Cardiovascular Risk

Oct 23, 2013
The seasonal flu shot is life-saving for patients at high risk for heart disease.

Is Surgery Safe for Stent Patients?

Oct 18, 2013
Study suggests that patients with stents should wait six months to undergo elective surgery to reduce risk of complications.

Widespread CPR Education Improves Survival Rates

Oct 18, 2013
National program in Denmark increased CPR bystander rates and tripled survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest.

Comparing Life-Saving Procedures from a Patient Perspective

Oct 18, 2013
Trial compares quality of life in diabetic patients undergoing revascularization procedures CABG and PCI.

Few ICD Patients Utilize New Safety Feature

Oct 04, 2013
Study finds less than half of patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators are using remote patient monitoring.

Aspirin Underutilized in Angioplasty Patients

Oct 03, 2013
Despite its protective effects, many patients undergoing angioplasty don’t receive aspirin.

Popular Estrogen Therapy May Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Sep 30, 2013
Study finds that the most-prescribed estrogen therapy may increase risk for blood clots and heart attack compared to other medications.

A Healthy Heart in Your Golden Years

Sep 27, 2013
CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief JoAnne Foody writes about a few key steps that we should all take to boost heart health.

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