What is Acute Coronary Syndrome; Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Acute coronary syndrome is a medical term used to elucidate a range of conditions associated with reduced blood flow to the heart. Read ahead to know.

Tanya Srivastava
Written by: Tanya SrivastavaPublished at: May 06, 2022Updated at: May 06, 2022
What is Acute Coronary Syndrome; Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Acute coronary syndrome is a medical term used to elucidate a range of conditions associated with sudden and reduced blood flow to the heart. Heart attack is one such condition. This happens when the cell death results in damaged or destroyed heart tissue. Even in the stance of acute coronary syndrome, it may causes no cell death. However, the reduced blood flow changes how your heart works and is a sign of a high risk of heart attack.

Acute coronary syndrome often causes severe pain or discomfort in the chest. ACS is a medical emergency that requires prompt diagnosis and care. The treatment of this syndrome focuses on improving the blood flow, treating complications and preventing future heart problems.

Also Read: Angina: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment


The signs and symptoms of acute coronary syndrome usually begin out of no where. They include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort, followed by aching, pressure, tightness or burning
  • Pain spreading from the chest to the shoulders, arms, back, neck or jaw
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden, heavy sweating
  • Fainting
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue
  • Feeling restless or apprehensive

Chest pain, discomfort and shortness of breath are  the most common symptoms of acute coronary syndrome. Albeit, this varies significantly depending on your diagnosis; age, sex and other medical conditions. In case of a woman, older adult or a diabetes patient, one is also likely to have these symptoms without any chest pain or discomfort.

Risk factors

The risk factors involved in acute coronary syndrome are the same as those for other types of heart disease. Acute coronary syndrome risk factors include:

  • Aging
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Excessive smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Diabetes
  • Genetics
  • COVID-19 infection


Acute coronary syndrome usually results from the buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in and on the walls of coronary arteries or the blood vessels delivering oxygen and nutrients to heart muscles.

Also Read:What Happens When An Infection Happens In The Heart? Know Its Symptoms And Preventive Measures

When a plaque deposit ruptures or splits, it forms a blood clot. This blood clot blocks the flow of blood to heart muscles which in turn gets fatal.

When the supply of oxygen to cells is very low, the cells of the heart muscles starts dying. The death of cells results in the damage to muscle tissues. This is what leads into a heart attack.

Even when there is no cell death, the decrease in oxygen still results in heart muscles since they don't work the way they ideally should. This change may be temporary or permanent.


To determine what’s causing your symptoms, go to a doctor for proper physical examination of your body. If the doctor suspects an acute coronary syndrome, go for tests like:

  1. Blood test which can show evidences that the heart cells are dying.
  2. Electrocardiogram (ECG) which can diagnose an acute coronary syndrome by gauging the heart’s electrical activity.


The treatment for acute coronary syndrome includes medicines and a procedure known as angioplasty. This is a process wherein the doctor inflates a small balloon to open the artery. It is stringent that the treatment should be given for a minimum of 48 hours and up to eight days.

Additional acute treatment options include:

  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Intravenous morphine
  • Beta blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Statins