If you have Acute Coronary Syndrome, you have one or more conditions caused by a blockage of blood flow to your heart muscle. This is a medical emergency because you may be having a heart attack—a condition in which your heart muscle begins to die. Your heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood containing the oxygen and nutrients your body needs.
The main pumping chamber of your heart is the left ventricle. When you're left ventricle contracts it sends oxygen-rich blood to your body through a large artery called the aorta. Connected to your aorta are small arteries called coronary arteries. Blood flows from your aorta through the coronary arteries to supply your heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients.
If you have acute coronary syndrome, blood flow through your coronary arteries is severely reduced or completely blocked. One possible cause of reduced blood flow is atherosclerosis. In this condition, a build-up other fatty substance called plaque can narrow your coronary arteries. If this plaque ruptures a blood clot can form and block the artery.
A blood clot is the most common cause have coronary artery blockage. Other less common causes of reduced blood flow include coronary artery spasm or dissection.
In a coronary artery spasm triggers such as, drugs, smoking, cold weather, and extreme stress or emotions can cause a temporary and sudden tightening of a coronary artery.
During a Coronary Artery Dissection, the inside wall of one of your coronary arteries separates—which can block blood flow. Regardless of the cause, a blockage in either coronary artery prevents the oxygen and nutrients in your blood from reaching the part of your heart supplied by the artery.
As a result heart muscle in that area starts to die. Death as part of your heart muscle is called a heart attack. It’s also known as a Myocardial Infarction or MI.
A blocked coronary artery may also cause you to feel sudden pain, discomfort, tightening or a burning sensation in your chest called angina. This pain may extend to your upper abdomen, shoulders, arms, neck, and lower jaw.
If you have angina when you are at rest or frequent and angina that prevents even moderate physical activity. You have unstable angina. This is the main symptom acute coronary syndrome.
Other symptoms and acute coronary syndrome include:
- Shortness of breath
- And sweating
If you've had a heart attack or have other type’s acute coronary syndrome your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy to get more oxygen into your blood.
- You may take aspirin or other prescription blood thinner drugs to prevent blood clots.
- Thrombolytic also known as clotbuster drugs may be used to break up any existing blood clots.
- Drugs such as nitroglycerin and morphine will relax your coronary arteries and relieve the pain of angina.
- You may also receive drugs called beta-blockers that slow down your heart and reduce its need for oxygen.
- Your doctor may also recommend immediate surgical procedures such as, Coronary Angioplasty. In which a balloon tip catheter inflates inside your blocked coronary artery to open it. After inflating, the balloon catheter may leave behind a mesh-like device called a stent—to hold your artery open.
- You may have a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft or CABG. CABG is a surgical procedure in which the blocked areas the coronary arteries are bypassed with the veins or artificial graft material.
Seek treatment immediately if you have the symptoms Acute Coronary Syndrome!