Acute Coronary Syndrome

ACS is related to your heart and takes place when your heart does not receive a sufficient amount of blood from coronary arteries. Coronary arteries in the body are responsible for supplying blood rich in oxygen to your heart. When these arteries become blocked or narrowed, your heart is unable to receive the required quantity of oxygen, which results in either heart attack or angina.

In the US, over 1.5 million individuals suffer from cardiac arrest every year. Around 40,000 to 50,000 of these individuals die; half of them succumb to death before reaching the hospital. Nearly all of these individuals suffer from a primary disease pertaining to coronary arteries, and about two-thirds of these patients are men.

What Are the Symptoms of Acute Coronary Syndrome?

The symptoms of acute coronary syndrome are similar to the signs of a heart attack. If you don't take any acute coronary syndrome treatment, then it is likely that you will experience a heart attack. Hence, it is essential for you to take the symptoms of this syndrome seriously.  You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Angina or chest pain followed by a tightness, burning or pressure in the chest area
  • Nausea
  • Pain anywhere in your body, including in the jaw or upper side of your left arm
  • Vomiting
  • Dyspnea (shortness in breath)
  • Heavy sweating (diaphoresis)

If you are experiencing a cardiac arrest, then its symptoms can vary: they depend on your age, gender, and whether or not you have any underlying disease or condition. Some of the signs of cardiac arrest include abdominal pain, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, pain that resembles heartburn, strange fatigue, and the feeling of apprehensiveness or restlessness.

When to See a Doctor

You should see your doctor when you have a severe chest pain; do not take this lightly. It is better to get assistance from the emergency medical services instead of driving to the nearest hospital on your own because you could be experiencing a severe heart attack.

In the case that you experience a chronic and frequent chest pain, discuss it with your healthcare provider as it could be any type of angina. Stable angina normally occurs unsurprisingly. For instance, you can suffer from chest pain when you jog, but it may disappear when you take a rest. However, unstable angina is unpredictable it also takes place when you are resting. This pain can be more severe than that experienced during stable angina. You need to seek medical help immediately if this type of angina happens.

What Are the Causes of Acute Coronary Syndrome?

Acute coronary syndrome is normally caused due to atheroma in the coronary arteries. Atheroma resembles plaques or patches of fat that can develop in the lining of the coronary arteries. It may form during a period of several years in one or more locations inside your coronary arteries. Every plaque has a core of soft fat that is protected by a strong shell on the outside. Plaques begin blocking the arteries and make them narrower than before. This results in a reduced flow of blood to the heart, which causes heart attack or severe angina.

Other conditions that can block the coronary arteries include the following:

  • Getting a stab wound in the heart area
  • Inflamed coronary arteries
  • Blood clot in any part of the body reaching any coronary artery
  • Using cocaine
  • Complications caused during a heart surgery
  • Other uncommon heart disorders

Who Is at Risk?

You are at the risk of acquiring acute coronary syndrome if you:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are overweight
  • Have very high cholesterol
  • Are inactive
  • Are dieting
  • Are suffering from diabetes
  • Have a family history of ACS and if this syndrome attacked your brother or father below 55 years of age and your sister or mother below 65 years of age

What Are the Treatments for Acute Coronary Syndrome?

The following treatments are normally used for curing acute coronary syndrome.




It reduces blood clotting quickly as it is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly.


Also known as "clotbusters", thrombolytics dissolve the blood clot that is disrupting the flow of blood to the heart.


It widens the narrow blood vessels and enhances the flow of blood, so it is useful for treating angina and chest pain.

Beta Blockers

They relax the heart, reduce the high blood pressure, slow the rate of your heart, and improve blood flow to the heart, which results in an alleviation of chest pain.

ACE inhibitors and  ARBs

They enable blood to easily flow from the heart. They lower your blood pressure, preventing the onset of another heart attack.

Calcium Channel Blockers

They calm down your heart to improve the blood flow to your heart.

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

Also referred to as "statins", these drugs can reduce the level of cholesterol in your body and can prevent the formation of plaque deposits. They also stabilize the plaque preventing it from rupturing.

Clot Preventing Drugs

Medicines like prasugrel (effient) and clopidogrel (plavix) are used for preventing blood clots. It prevents the blood platelets from sticking together. Clopidogrel can increase the chances of bleeding so you should let your healthcare provider know if you're taking it.


If the above medications aren't helpful enough, you can go through any of the following surgical procedures:

  • Angioplasty and stenting: A thin and long tube (catheter) is inserted in the narrowed artery. A deflated balloon enters the area via the catheter and helps in opening the blockage when it gets inflated. A stent is normally left in the narrowed area to keep the affected artery open.
  • Coronary bypass surgery: In this procedure, a different route is created for the blood to move around the blocked artery.

What Are the Preventions for Acute Coronary Syndrome?

The only way to prevent acute coronary syndrome from attacking you is by changing your lifestyle. You should bring the following changes in your lifestyle:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Participate in physical activities.
  • Control your stress levels.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is good for your heart. Avoid all the food items rich in fat. Add more whole grains, low-fat dairy goods, lean meat, veggies and fruits.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are obese, then start exercising and eating more fruits and veggies.
  • Manage your blood pressure.Get your blood pressure examined at least once in two years to make sure you don't have high blood pressure. Blood pressure less than 120/80 ml of mercury is normal.
  • Check your cholesterol levels. If you are suffering from high cholesterol then get its level examined regularly so that you can make the necessary changes in your diet and habits. You should have a cholesterol level of less than 200mg/dL.
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