Acute Coronary Syndrome

Acute coronary syndrome refers to a condition which results due to the sudden depreciation of blood supply to the heart.

If the acute coronary syndrome is diagnosed quickly, it can be treated. Depending on the symptoms and the health conditions, the types of treatment for acute coronary syndrome differ. If a quick treatment is not given for the acute coronary syndrome, it may result in a heart attack. Mostly the symptoms of a heart attack and for acute coronary syndrome remain the same.

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Symptoms of acute coronary syndrome

The following are the common signs for acute coronary syndrome/heart attack:

  • Chest pain with a burning sensation
  • Chest pressure and tightness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Pain in upper left arm or jaw
  • Diaphoresis or excessive sweating
  • Dyspnea or breathlessness
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Restlessness
  • Increased fatigue or weakness
  • Sticky skin

Causes of acute coronary syndrome

In course of time the fatty deposits in the arteries of heart slowly build up plaques, which make the flow of blood difficult. This hampers the pumping of oxygen rich blood to the rest of the body. This atherosclerosis causes angina or the heart attack. It also causes the coronary artery disease by damaging the heart arteries. If the plaques happen to rupture, it may cause heart attack. Probably most of the acute coronary syndrome occurs after the rupture of the plaque. As a matter of fact, blood clots occur on the spot of the rupture and block the blood flow through that artery.

A chest pain that is similar to pain experienced in a heart attack, may happen during rest or while performing a light physical activity. Such pain can also be one of the symptoms of acute coronary syndrome. But it is diagnosed in hospital.

Some of the risk factors that increased the chances of developing acute coronary syndrome are as follows:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Lack of physical activities
  • Aged above 45 for men and 55 for women
  • Smoking

Diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome

If the doctor doubts the presence of acute coronary syndrome or vulnerability to cardiac attack, then he/she may go for the following tests:

  • Blood tests: If a heart is damaged and weakened by a heart attack, certain heart enzymes slowly leak into the blood stream. A blood sample test may help to confirm.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test is taken first, while one is being questioned about the symptoms. Under this test the electrical impulses are recorded through the electrodes, which are recorded in monitor and printed on paper. This will explain whether a heart attack has occurred or is in progress.

These tests will explain the seriousness of the conditions. If these tests do not clear the doubts, then a test to check the blood flow through the heart, is taken.

If the tests reveal that one had the heart attack or if he is in high risk of heart attack, then he may be admitted in hospital and put to more aggressive tests such as coronary angiogram.

If the doctor finds that the patient had no heart attack, the subject may be asked to undergo the fallowing tests before leaving the hospital:

  • Chest X-ray: This test helps the doctor to check about the shape and size of the heart and blood vessels.
  • Echocardiogram: By the help of transducer, the heart’s sound is processed electronically and to get video images of the heart to find out the heart’s damage by attack and indicate it’s strength in pumping of blood.
  • Nuclear scan: This test will help to identify problems regarding the blood flow to heart. Under this test a small quantity of radioactive material is injected into the blood stream. Special cameras can detect the flow of the radioactive material, which point out the narrowed blood paths by dark spots in scan.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) angiogram:  A CT scan test enables the doctor to identify the arteries which are blocked or narrowed. It is done only when the electrocardiogram and the blood tests do not confirm the cause of the symptoms.
  • Coronary angiogram: This test helps to show the narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. A liquid dye is injected into the arteries of the heart. The arteries become visible on X-ray, due to the presence of dye in blood, and reveal the areas of blockages. Doctors treat the blockage by angioplasty.
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