Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a term that describes symptoms related to poor blood flow to the heart muscle that lead to a heart attack. This results in chest pain or angina pectoris. ACS is a very serious, life-threatening condition. If you think you have ACS seek immediate medical treatment.
ACS is caused by a sudden blockage of the coronary arteries. These blood vessels carry blood to the heart muscle. The blood flow to the heart muscle is either greatly reduced or completely blocked. This leads to heart muscle damage or death from a heart attack.
The narrowing most often happens from years of plaque build-up in an artery. This is called atherosclerosis. Blood clots may often cause of the narrowing arteries.
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Risk factors that increase your chances of developing acute coronary syndrome include:
ACS is very serious. It requires immediate medical treatment. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you suspect ACS, call an ambulance. At the hospital, tests may include the following:
If you are having a heart attack, doctors will:
Treating ACS with angiography and revascularization (restoring blood flow to the heart) may reduce the rate of being hospitalized again. But, the surgery may not reduce the rate of death or heart attack.
To help reduce your chances of getting ACS, take the same heart-healthy lifestyle steps used to prevent other forms of coronary artery disease such as:
American College of Cardiology
American Heart Association
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 9/30/2013