Acute Coronary Syndrome

What happens when your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen?

Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. Acute coronary syndrome covers a range of conditions that occur when coronary flow is suddenly reduced or blocked, resulting in heart muscle damage. This happens when a plaque rupture causes sudden clotting within the coronary. As the blockage worsens, the lack of blood flow and oxygen will progressively damage your heart, and parts of it will start to die (i.e., you will experience a heart attack).

Any type of acute coronary syndrome is a medical emergency and you need to seek help right away.

Angina usually presents as exertional chest discomfort or breathing difficulty that recovers with rest. When acute coronary syndrome begins, you may experience unstable angina, which is angina pain that you may have felt before, but now is occurring more frequently, more severely or lasting longer than it normally would. Unstable angina is very serious and may mean you are progressing to a major heart attack, so it is important to seek medical attention right away.

Symptoms may include:
• Severe chest pain or discomfort, even at rest
• Radiating pain in one or both arms, the neck, jaw, back or stomach
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
• Nausea
• Sweating

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