Heart attack (Acute Coronary Syndrome)

Acute coronary syndrome is a term that is used to describe a heart attack and sometimes unstable chest pain. A heart attack happens when the blood flow to your heart is interrupted or restricted by a buildup of cholesterol in your coronary arteries. There are two types of heart attack, and your length of stay and what happens while you are in hospital will be determined by the type of heart attack you experience. They are:

  • ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) -  If your artery is completely blocked and blood flow stops, the whole heart muscle might be damaged. In this case the doctor can see a ST elevation during an ECG exam. For more information on what will happen if you've had a STEMI heart attack, please click here.
  • Non ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI) - If your artery is partially blocked and some blood flow continues, only part of your heart muscle may be damaged. In this case the doctor will not see a ST elevation during an ECG exam. For more information on what will happen if you've had a NSTEMI heart attack, please click here.

Chest pain may be a warning sign that you have a buildup  in your artery but you have not yet had damage to your heart muscle. If you have symptoms such as chest tightness or heaviness, pain in the upper stomach, jaw or arm, shortness of breath, sweating or nausea, and perhaps lose consciousness. you may be having a heart attack. Call 911 immediately.