Acute Coronary Syndrome

What is Acute Coronary Syndrome?

General description/overview

Acute coronary syndrome is a condition that occurs when the coronary artery becomes suddenly blocked. The blockage can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or unstable angina (partial blockage) that greatly increases the risk of a heart attack if not properly treated. Heart tissue dies when a heart attack occurs, and more than half of victims die before making it to a hospital. Either event is usually caused by fatty build-up (atherosclerosis) on artery walls.

Risk factors

  • Age – (55 and above for females) and (age 45 and above for males)
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • Cigarettes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor diet
  • Excess weight
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Aortic valve stenosis
  • Aortic valve leakage
  • Severe anemia
  • Temporary narrowing of coronary arteries (cardiac syndrome x)
  • Family history of stroke, angina and/or heart attack
  • Coronary artery spasm caused by drugs such as cocaine
  • History of pregnancy complications including preeclampsia, hypertension and/or gestational diabetes

What are the Symptoms of Acute Coronary Syndrome?

Chest pain does not always accompany a heart attack, but it is a classic sign. It can be described as burning or aching beneath the sternum (breastbone), and it can radiate from the chest to the throat, jaw, teeth, arm(s), shoulder(s) or upper abdomen. It is usually in the left arm, but not always. The chest might feel intermittently tight, heavy and uncomfortable.

Symptoms are not always typical and can vary according to age and gender. The pain of angina is usually less severe than the pain of a heart attack, but it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Sometimes there are no recognizable indicators.

Other symptoms may include

  • Faintness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Bluish hands, feet and/or lips
  • Excessive sweating

Acute coronary artery syndrome symptoms in women may include

  • Soreness or burning feeling in back, arms, shoulder or jaw

Acute coronary artery syndrome symptoms in older people may include

  • Pain in the shoulders and back instead of in the chest area
  • Digestion problems including gas, bloating and stomach upset

Acute Coronary Syndrome Causes

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is caused by an accumulation of fat deposits (called plaque) on the walls of the coronary arteries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart. When the plaque deposit bursts, a blood clot develops, which obstructs blood flow to the heart. Without proper oxygen and blood flow, the heart muscles begin to die.

Lack of proper nutrition and exercise cause the plaque buildup that leads to acute coronary syndrome. Whole fat products produce arterial fat build up and include whole milk and cream, high-fat cheese, real butter, “marbled,” fatty meats, and even ice cream.

Other processed foods that contribute to ACS have palm and coconut oils. These oils are added to packaged and prepared food to augment taste in cookies, doughnuts, and many other foods.

How is Acute Coronary Syndrome Treated?

A variety of drugs may be used to treat acute coronary artery syndrome.

They drugs may include

  • Statins
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Nitrates
  • Anticoagulants
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Antiplatelet medications
  • Opioids
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Receptor blockers
  • Thrombolytic medications
  • Stool softeners to reduce straining

Other treatment options may include

An angioplasty and stent, coronary bypass surgery, bed rest, cessation of smoking and a good cardiac rehabilitation program.

Acute Coronary Syndrome Prevention

Acute coronary syndrome can be prevented. The most powerful steps involve living a heart-healthy lifestyle. This is even more important if you already have heart disease.

First, eat a healthy diet consisting mostly of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. You also should set a goal to obtain and stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you must. It’s very important to stay physically active. If you have special health concerns, your doctor can suggest a safe level of exercise.

Don’t smoke. There is no good end to this habit. If you suffer from additional health issues, it is extremely important that you keep them in check, especially diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Keep your stress levels down because stress can damage your heart further. Ask your doctor if a daily aspirin can help.

In order to reduce your cholesterol, read food labels and avoid products high in cholesterol or saturated fat or trans-fat. In particular, avoid liver meat because it’s high in cholesterol. Another life hack is to remove the yolks and just eat the egg whites to get the protein you need and avoid the cholesterol you don’t.

Try your best to stay away from foods that can cause plaque buildup that leads to ACS. In addition, exercise regularly. These actions will have a major impact on your cardiovascular health.