Acute coronary syndrome is a general term referring to three types of coronary artery diseases that result when the heart experiences a sudden, reduced flow of blood associated with the sudden rupture of the atherosclerotic plaque inside the coronary artery and the partial or complete thrombosis of the infarct-related artery.
Acute coronary syndrome can refer to any of these conditions: unstable angina, NSTEMI (non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) or STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction). The diagnosis of which condition applies depends on the length of time that blood flow is blocked and how much damage occurred. This serious condition causes chest pains that are felt while having a heart attack or unstable angina, which are chest pains felt while at rest or while performing light physical activities. This diagnosis is often made by emergency medical personnel.
Apart from acute coronary syndrome causes which are pathological, it may also be attributed to physiological stressors such as blood loss, infection or tachyarrhythmia which can increase demands on the heart. Also, while acute coronary syndrome is generally associated with coronary thrombosis, cocaine use can also be a reason why acute coronary syndrome occurs.
The symptoms of acute coronary syndrome are very much like those of a heart attack. In fact, if not treated immediately, acute coronary syndrome causes a heart attack. Generally, acute coronary syndrome causes angina, or chest pains that feel like burning or tightness, that last for several minutes or longer and cause pain in other parts of the body like the upper arm or the jaw. In some cases, Acute coronary syndrome causes nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and sudden, heavy sweating.
Depending on the patient’s sex, age and overall physical condition, acute coronary syndrome symptoms such as abdominal pain, heartburn, clammy skin, lightheadedness, fatigue and restlessness may also manifest. When chest pain is experienced in an emergency situation, it is crucial to seek medical help immediately.
In cases like this, the patient should not drive himself to the hospital, since the chest pains may be indicative of a heart attack. Recurring chest pains may be a form of angina, and it is best to consult a doctor to expertly advise the patient regarding treatment options.
If diagnosed quickly, the condition is treatable. Prescribed treatments depend on the symptoms experienced and the patient’s overall physical state. The medications for this illness will relieve chest pains and improve blood flow through the heart.
In an emergency situation, when physicians diagnose that Acute coronary syndrome causes the patient’s symptoms, aspirin is given to decrease blood clotting and step up blood flow through the heart. Since aspirin is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream, it is a common prescription for acute coronary syndrome.
Patients may also ingest thrombolytics to dissolve blood clots that may be blocking blood flow and nitroglycerin to relieve chest pains and widen narrowed blood vessels. Beta blockers that relax heart muscles, slow the heart rate and decrease blood pressure can also lessen the demands on the heart.
The prescription of these drugs can counteract the effects that acute coronary syndrome causes by lessening the potential damage during a heart attack. In case these drugs are not effective in preventing a second heart attack, angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) inhibitors, angiotension receptor blockers (ARBs) and calcium channel blockers are prescribed to lessen the stress on the heart.
Statins also reduce the body’s bad cholesterol and hinder the creation of plaque deposits. When medication does not prove effective, doctors may recommend surgical procedures such as angioplasty, stenting or coronary bypass surgery to facilitate blood flow in the case of blocked arteries.