Get answers to your heart disease prevention questions.
Acute coronary syndrome; Myocardial infarction
The heart is the human body's hardest working organ. Throughout life it continuously pumps blood enriched with oxygen and vital nutrients through a network of arteries to all tissues of the body. To perform this strenuous task, the heart muscle itself needs a plentiful supply of oxygen-rich blood, provided through a network of coronary arteries. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart's muscular walls (the myocardium).
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked, and tissue death occurs from loss of oxygen, severely damaging a portion of the heart.
Coronary Artery Disease. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart attacks. Coronary artery disease is the end result of a complex process called atherosclerosis (commonly called "hardening of the arteries"). This causes blockage of arteries (ischemia) and prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. [For more information, see In-Depth Report #3: Coronary artery disease.]
Heart attack (or myocardial infarction) is among the most serious outcome of atherosclerosis. It can occur as a result of one of two effects of atherosclerosis:
Angina, the primary symptom of coronary artery disease, is typically experienced as chest pain. There are two kinds of angina:
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a severe and sudden heart condition that, although needing aggressive treatment, has not developed into a full blown heart attack. Acute coronary syndrome includes:
Patients diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) may be at risk for a heart attack. Doctors use a patient's medical history, various tests, and the presence of certain factors to help predict which ACS patients are most at risk for developing a more serious condition. The severity of chest pain itself does not necessarily indicate the actual damage in the heart.
Anderson JL, Adams CD, Antman EM, Bridges CR, Califf RM, Casey DE Jr, et al. ACC/AHA 2007 guidelines for the management of patients with unstable angina/non-ST-Elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Revise the 2002 Guidelines for the Management of Patients With Unstable Angina/Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction) developed in collaboration with the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons endorsed by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Aug 14;50(7):e1-e157.
Antman EM. ST-Elevation myocardial infarcation: management. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 51.
Antman EM, Bennett JS, Daugherty A, Furberg C, Roberts H, Taubert KA. Use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs: an update for clinicians: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2007 Mar 27;115(12):1634-42. Epub 2007 Feb 26.
Antman EM, Hand M, Armstrong PW, Bates ER, Green LA, Halasyamani LK, Hochman JS, et al. 2007 Focused Update of the ACC/AHA 2004 Guidelines for the Management of Patients With ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines: developed in collaboration With the Canadian Cardiovascular Society endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians: 2007 Writing Group to Review New Evidence and Update the ACC/AHA 2004 Guidelines for the Management of Patients With ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, Writing on Behalf of the 2004 Writing Committee. Circulation. 2008 Jan 15;117(2):296-329. Epub 2007 Dec 10.
Cannon CP and Braunwald E. Unstable angina and non-ST elevation myocardial infarction. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 53.
Eisenstein EL, Anstrom KJ, Kong DF, Shaw LK, Tuttle RH, Mark DB, et al. Clopidogrel use and long-term clinical outcomes after drug-eluting stent implantation. JAMA. 2007 Jan 10;297(2):159-68. Epub 2006 Dec 5.
Goodman SG, Menon V, Cannon CP, Steg G, Ohman EM, Harrington RA; et al. Acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines (8th Edition). Chest. 2008 Jun;133(6 Suppl):708S-775S.
Hirsch A, Windhausen F, Tijssen JG, Verheugt FW, Cornel JH, de Winter RJ; Invasive versus Conservative Treatment in Unstable coronary Syndromes (ICTUS) investigators. Long-term outcome after an early invasive versus selective invasive treatment strategy in patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome and elevated cardiac troponin T (the ICTUS trial): a follow-up study. Lancet. 2007 Mar 10;369(9564):827-35.
Hulten E, Jackson JL, Douglas K, George S, Villines TC. The effect of early, intensive statin therapy on acute coronary syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Sep 25;166(17):1814-21.
Hochman JS, Lamas GA, Buller CE, Dzavik V, Reynolds HR, Abramsky SJ, et al. Coronary intervention for persistent occlusion after myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2006 Dec 7;355(23):2395-407. Epub 2006 Nov 14.
Hochman JS, Sleeper LA, Webb JG, Dzavik V, Buller CE, Aylward P, et al. Early revascularization and long-term survival in cardiogenic shock complicating acute myocardial infarction. JAMA. 2006 Jun 7;295(21):2511-5.
King SB 3rd, Smith SC Jr, Hirshfeld JW Jr, Jacobs AK, Morrison DA, Williams DO;et al. 2007 Focused Update of the ACC/AHA/SCAI 2005 Guideline Update for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines: 2007 Writing Group to Review New Evidence and Update the ACC/AHA/SCAI 2005 Guideline Update for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, Writing on Behalf of the 2005 Writing Committee. Circulation. 2008 Jan 15;117(2):261-95. Epub 2007 Dec 13.
Krumholz HM, Anderson JL, Bachelder BL, Fesmire FM, Fihn SD, Foody JM, et al. ACC/AHA 2008 performance measures for adults with ST-elevation and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Performance Measures (Writing Committee to develop performance measures for ST-elevation and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction): developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Emergency Physicians: endorsed by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Hospital Medicine. Circulation. 2008 Dec 9;118(24):2596-648. Epub 2008 Nov 10.
Lloyd-Jones DM, Liu K, Tian L, Greenland P. Narrative review: Assessment of C-reactive protein in risk prediction for cardiovascular disease. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Jul 4;145(1):35-42.
Spaulding C, Henry P, Teiger E, Beatt K, Bramucci E, Carrie D, et al. Sirolimus-eluting versus uncoated stents in acute myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2006 Sep 14;355(11):1093-104.
Wang TJ, Gona P, Larson MG, Tofler GH, Levy D, Newton-Cheh C, et al. Multiple biomarkers for the prediction of first major cardiovascular events and death. N Engl J Med. 2006 Dec 21;355(25):2631-9.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885