Acute Coronary Syndrome: Overview

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a severe and sudden heart condition that happens when there is a sudden blockage in a coronary artery. The blood supply is cut off to the myocardium, a part of the heart muscle. The lack of blood supply to any tissue is termed ischemia. If the supply is cut for more than a few minutes, heart tissue dies. A heart attack, also termed myocardial infarction (MI), is death of heart tissue from ischemia.

The location of the blockage, the length of time that blood flow is blocked and the amount of damage that occurs determines the type of acute coronary syndrome. These life-threatening conditions require emergency medical care.

People diagnosed with ACS are at risk for a heart attack. Doctors use a patient's medical history and various tests to predict a patient's risk for developing a more serious condition.

ACS is usually diagnosed in an emergency room or hospital. The good news is that if it is diagnosed quickly, it usually is treatable. Depending on your symptoms and health condition, your treatment plan will vary.

Despite these setbacks, if you have heart trouble, your goal is to learn to take care of your body well enough to enjoy life without having to worry about the threat of a heart attack—and we're here to help you do just that!