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Acute Coronary Syndrome
(ACS; Unstable Angina)
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- A family history of heart disease
- Being overweight or obese
- High cholesterol, especially high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Current angina, a previous heart attack, or other types of coronary artery disease
- Chest pain, pressure, tightness, burning, or other discomfort that may last a few minutes, go away, and then come back
- Pain that lasts 30 minutes or longer
- Pain that occurs after physical exertion, emotional stress, or eating a large meal
- Pain that occurs at rest, while sleeping, or with little exertion
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, shoulders, the back, the neck, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath combined with chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Work quickly to restore blood flow to the heart
- Closely monitor vital signs to detect and treat complications
- Aspirin is given to all patients suspected of having ACS.
- Anti-ischemic drugs, such as nitroglycerin are used to help relieve chest pain.
- Beta blockers are given to slow the heart rate so it does not use too much energy.
- Thrombolytic drugs are used to dissolve blood clots. When given soon after a heart attack begins, these drugs can limit or prevent permanent damage to the heart. To be most effective, they need to be given within one hour after the start of heart attack symptoms.
- Platelet inhibitors to keep the blockage from getting worse.
- Angioplasty—A catheter is inserted into a blocked artery. A balloon is inflated and deflated. This will allow blood to flow again. A stent may be placed to prop the artery open.
- Coronary artery bypass surgery—Arteries or veins are taken from other areas in your body. They are used to bypass the blocked arteries in your heart.
- Oxygen is given to all patients. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fats. The diet should also be rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
- Manage your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. This can include lifestyle changes and medication.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
- Review Date: 09/2017
- Update Date: 08/17/2015