Acute Coronary Syndrome Symptoms

acute coronary syndrome

Acute Coronary Syndrome Symptoms

There are many different types of heart conditions.

While some terms are used to describe specific issues, others are used as umbrella terms to cover medical problems closely related to one another.

Let’s take a look at one of these umbrella terms used in the medical field and discuss its symptoms, among other characteristics.

What is Acute Coronary Syndrome? 

Acute coronary syndrome is a syndrome characterized by decreased blood flow to the heart through the coronary arteries. This occurs when a part of the heart muscle is unable to function properly or stops working altogether.  

While the most common symptom to experience with this syndrome is chest pain, it is possible to present symptoms different to this.

The reason acute coronary syndrome is an umbrella category is that it covers three different clinical manifestations. These include non-ST elevation myocardial infarction, ST-elevation myocardial infarction, and unstable angina.  

These types are separated and distinguished according to the appearance of each one on the electrocardiogram. As a result, there can be some variation as to the appearance of these forms and what results in them falling under the umbrella of this syndrome.

It’s worth noting at this point that this syndrome is separate and different from stable angina. Stable angina is more common and may appear as a result of stress or physical activity. It should resolve at rest.

Another difference between stable and unstable angina is that unstable angina occurs suddenly and without warning. It may happen at rest or with activity.

What Are the Causes of Acute Coronary Syndrome?

acute coronary syndrome - What Are the Causes of Acute Coronary Syndrome?

Now that we’ve defined what acute coronary syndrome is, let’s take a look at some of the causes:

Age: This heart syndrome can manifest as a result of the heart being older and as a result overworked. It’s more common to see it in men who are older than 45 and women who are older than 55.

Genetics: Genetics plays a relevant role when looking at acute coronary syndrome. If your family has a history of heart disease, stroke or chest pain, you may experience a syndrome like this at some point in your life.

Diabetes is also a potential cause of acute coronary syndrome. Women also have a higher chance of experiencing this syndrome if they have a history of preeclampsia, diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Unhealthy Lifestyle: A person’s lifestyle is also closely linked with heart conditions like acute coronary syndrome. Unhealthy lifestyle habits that may lead to this syndrome include smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and being overweight or obese.

This heart syndrome occurs when a buildup of fatty deposits appear on and in the walls of the coronary arteries. This adversely affects the blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscles, inhibiting their ability to function correctly.

What Are the Symptoms of Acute Coronary Syndrome?

acute coronary syndrome - man having a heart ache

Now that we know what the leading causes of acute coronary syndrome are let’s take a look at some symptoms you may experience as a result of this heart condition.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the symptoms and general signs of this syndrome may appear quickly and without much warning.

Brian Wu of Medical News Today says that common symptoms to experience if you’re suffering from this heart syndrome include shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and sweating.

There are other symptoms that you may experience, as well. These include pain or discomfort in the chest area, pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms, as well as a possible ache in your jaw, neck, back, and stomach. You may also suffer from indigestion and shortness of breath.

Occasionally, the symptoms of this syndrome that manifest pain can be slow-building and unpredictable. The best way to determine if it causes these symptoms is to monitor them at rest.

If you’re still experiencing these symptoms when your body is at rest, then you may be suffering from acute coronary syndrome. While signs and symptoms depend on age and sex, remember that chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom to experience.

How Do You Diagnose Acute Coronary Syndrome?

​If you’re manifesting these signs and symptoms, it’s crucial that you seek medical attention in order to get a correct diagnosis. Let’s take a look at what that looks like:

Electrocardiogram: The first option when looking for this heart syndrome is an electrocardiogram. It’s the investigation that can also most reliably determine the cause of this syndrome in the patient.

acute coronary syndrome - womens having a heart attack

​For an electrocardiogram to be as effective as possible, it should be executed early on, preferably in the ambulance. If the ECG determines acute damage to the heart, then appropriate treatment will be administered.

Blood Tests and Imaging: as a syndrome like this is only one of many possible reasons for chest pain, the patient will most likely receive a number of different tests in the emergency department. These may include blood tests, telemetry, and a chest x-ray.

Prediction Scores: prediction scores may be used to accurately diagnose a patient who is experiencing symptoms associated with this syndrome. The doctor will record seven variables on the admission record which will help to crudely predict if the patient is suffering from myocardial ischemia.

Acute Coronary Syndrome Treatment and Management

acute coronary syndrome -consult your doctor

Now that we’ve discussed standard procedure when it comes to diagnosis of this heart condition let’s look at common treatments and management post-diagnosis.

Management of a syndrome like this is designed to reverse the effects of reduced blood flow to the affected area of the heart.

You may achieve this with immediate hospitalization of the patient, followed by medical therapy. The medical treatment involved with this syndrome includes drugs that help to relieve the severity of the chest pain while reducing the size of the infarct.

Medication is administered that prevents the formation of blood clots. For a particular subset of patients, there are more invasive procedures. These include percutaneous coronary intervention and coronary angiography.

It’s worth noting here that fundamental principles of management are the same for all three types of this heart syndrome. However, some slight variations determine the specificity of the treatment. This develops through the absence or presence of elevation of the ST segment, through the ECG.

If the patient is experiencing an elevation of the ST segment, then treatment is typically more aggressive as the problem is acuter. A medical treatment called reperfusion therapy applies to them exclusively.

How to Prevent Acute Coronary Syndrome

acute coronary syndrome - vegetables

If a patient has experienced a heart syndrome like this or is someone who is concerned about the risk factors involved, then they may want to look into trying to prevent the onset as best as possible.

Seeking advice from a healthcare professional like your doctor is a great way to begin preventative treatment for this type of syndrome.

If you’ve experience this syndrome, your doctor may recommend cardiac rehab. Cardiac rehab involves supervised education and exercise. The topics that they cover in a cardiac rehab program include diet and medical adherence, as well as other healthy-heart lifestyle choices.

Other ways to help prevent this heart syndrome effectively are being good about managing your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Healthcare professionals often recommend a Mediterranean-style diet concerning the prevention of acute coronary syndrome. The Mediterranean diet includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, oils, fish, and nuts.

Two other ways to help prevent symptoms associated with this syndrome are trying to maintain an optimized, healthy weight and not smoking.

Both smoking and obesity put unnecessary pressure on your blood vessels and heart muscles. Talk to your healthcare professional about ways to quit smoking and how to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

Looking at Acute Coronary Syndrome Symptoms

While there are many reasons you may experience chest pain, acute coronary syndrome can be one of them.

This heart syndrome is an umbrella term used to describe three different types of heart conditions. While they may differ in appearance and ways that they affect your body, they all have similar causes.

Preventing this syndrome through proper lifestyle choices is your best bet against experiencing its symptoms. While you may not think that you’re a candidate for a heart condition like this, you’d be surprised. If you don’t know the medical history of your family, finding out helps with prevention.

If you’re experiencing symptoms that you believe reflect a heart condition like this, seek medical assistance immediately. Remember to talk to your healthcare professional about ways to avoid the symptoms of acute coronary syndrome.


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