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Heart Health

What is acute coronary syndrome?

June 1, 2022

This umbrella term includes heart attacks and related emergencies that result from a sudden drop in blood flow to the heart.

photo of an older man clutching his chest experiencing pain

The term "heart attack" is a simple yet evocative way to convey the seriousness of this potentially life-threatening event. The official name — myocardial infarction — is more descriptive. Myo refers to muscle, cardial relates to the heart, and infarction denotes a disruption of blood flow (usually due to a clot) that starves and kills nearby tissue.

To physicians, heart attacks are part of a spectrum of related emergencies known as acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Most of the time, the underlying cause of ACS is the gradual buildup of fatty deposits called plaque inside the arteries supplying the heart.

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