Disclaimer: The brief patient information supplied here and the outside links provided are not intended to replace the advice of your physician and are only meant to help guide patients to formulate questions during their physician appointments. Each patient's situation is unique and a large number of factors are considered when arriving at a management plan for your specific condition. 

Acute Coronary Syndrome ("Heart Attack")

The heart is a muscle and it requires a regular supply of fresh blood to function. The blood vessels which supply oxygen-rich blood (arteries) to the heart can sometimes abruptly become blocked, typically due to a blood clot. There are other, much less common causes such as spontaneous (or iatrogenic) coronary artery dissection. Blood clots in the coronary arteries almost always form as a result of a ruptured plaque. A blood clot originating from somewhere else (such as inside the heart cavities themselves) can sometimes flow into a coronary artery and cause an obstruction, although this is fairly uncommon.

When a coronary artery becomes obstructed from a blood clot (thrombus), symptoms can vary, but an uncomfortable chest/jaw pressure is commonly reported. Symptoms can depend on the size and location of the heart tissue injury/death and on the severity of the blood flow impairment. Some patients report a rapidly worsening pattern of chest pressure with exercise, typically over the course of a few weeks, which can represent the least severe form of obstruction among types of acute coronary syndrome (unstable angina). These symptoms can progress to occuring at rest and in very many cases, patients report their firs patientand completely obstructed, or blocked off, patients typically endorse severe, crushing chest pressure, sweating, jaw/left arm/upper abdominal pressure, nausea/vomiting and/or a sense of impending doom. Symptoms can vary, due to a host of factors such as the location of the heart attack relative to the heart (anterior, inferior, lateral) and the completeness of however. Patients may also have a sub-totally obstructed coronary artery, with symptoms which come and go, or worsen with exercise.  These symptoms can progress to a more constant ype of chest pain form of angina which can represent the earliest stages of coronary obstruction from a blood clot. can be an early stage of what will eventually become ECG and suggestive history or chest pain canalone individualsA series of characteristic changes to one's ECG can help can be useful in diagnosing and monitoring an acute coronary syndrome, which is the name applied to the syndrome of acute coronary artery blood flow obstruction. Often, a blood clot will not changes are observed to the ECG for the next

Sometimes, a blood clot can suddenly form in blood vessels affected by atherosclerosis and cause severe limitation in blood flow to an area of the heart. A portion of the heart muscle can die as a result and abnormally high levels of heart tissue proteins may be detectable in the bloodstream. This process is called a "heart attack" (or myocardial infarction). This may be perceived as a sudden chest pressure, tightness or discomfort and is often associated with sweating, shortness or breath or nausea/vomiting. 

Many factors are associated with coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, and many of these risks are modifiable, including hypertension (high blood pressure), abnormal blood cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, diet and lack of regular physical exercise.