Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a set of features related to poor blood flow to the heart muscle that leads to a
heart attack. This results in
angina. ACS is a serious, life-threatening condition. If you think you have ACS, seek emergency 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 buildup in an artery. This is called
atherosclerosis. Blood clots may often cause the narrowing arteries.
Closely monitor vital signs to detect and treat complications
To restore blood flow, the main treatments are:
Aspirin is given to all patients suspected of having ACS.
Anti-ischemic drugs, such as nitroglycerin are used to help relieve chest pain.
Beta blockers are given to slow the heart rate so it does not use too much energy.
Thrombolytic drugs are used to dissolve blood clots. When given soon after a heart attack begins, these drugs can limit or prevent permanent damage to the heart. To be most effective, they need to be given within one hour after the start of heart attack symptoms.
Platelet inhibitors to keep the blockage from getting worse.
—A catheter is inserted into a blocked artery. A balloon is inflated and deflated. This will allow blood to flow again. A stent may be placed to prop the artery open.
Coronary artery bypass surgery
—Arteries or veins are taken from other areas in your body. They are used to bypass the blocked arteries in your heart.
Tips for recovering and staying well after a heart attack. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-recovering-and-staying-well. Updated June 2017. Accessed September 15, 2017.
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