Acute Coronary Syndrome
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is used to describe a range of conditions brought on by a sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart. ACS encompasses three types of coronary artery disease:
1) Non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction or heart attack (NSTEMI)
2) ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction or heart attack (STEMI)
3) Unstable angina.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused by the build up of cholesterol deposits in walls of the coronary arteries. This is called plaque and may result in the narrowing or occlusion of the artery. When a plaque deposit ruptures or splits, a blood clot forms. This clot blocks the flow of blood to heart muscles. When the supply of oxygen to cells is too low, cells of the heart muscles can die. The death of cells can damage muscle tissues (heart attack). Even when there is no cell death, the decrease in oxygen still results in heart muscles that don’t work normally. This may be temporary or permanent. When ACS doesn’t result in cell death, it is called unstable angina. ACS frequently causes chest pain and requires prompt medical attention. The goals of treatment include improving blood flow, treating complications and preventing future problems.
Symptoms can include:
1) chest pain (angina) or discomfort, often described as aching, pressure, tightness or burning pain spreading from the chest to the shoulders, arms, upper abdomen, back, neck or jaw
2) nausea or vomiting
4) Shortness of breath
5) Sudden, heavy sweating
6) Light headedness, dizziness or fainting
7) Unusual or unexplained fatigue
8) Feeling restless or apprehensive
Prompt medical consultation with your doctor is strongly recommended as ACS is a medical emergency. Detailed history and physical examination will help in the initial assessment of the various causes of chest pain. Relevant investigations will then be carried out to aid in the diagnosis and management of your condition, these may include: blood tests, ECG, stress testing, echocardiogram, coronary angiogram and or angioplasty, CT scan, MRI scan of the heart. Medications, when appropriate, will be prescribed (e.g. blood thinners, cholesterol lowering medication).
Consult Dr Ang to discuss an appropriate treatment plan for your heart condition.