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ACS Symptoms

And Timely Diagnostic Treatment Needs

ACS Symptoms are sudden and may be dramatic, ranging from mild chest pain from light exertion to the more severe cardiac arrest where there is a sudden stoppage of the heart function. ACS is a medical emergency. The following are the constellation of symptoms that ACS individuals may experience.

  • Chest Pain (sudden substernal pain)
  • Palpitatio
  • Dyspnea, exertional (breathing difficulty)
  • Sweating (diaphoresis)
  • Nausea/ Vomiting
  • Pain, referred (lower jaw or left upper arm)

Diagnosis of ACS

Since ACS is a medical emergency, the speed by which the diagnosis is carried out may spell out the difference between life and death. The following diagnostic procedures may quickly reveal ACS in individuals displaying symptoms.

History Taking – The occurrence of a recent severe substernal and crushing pain may herald the disease. Referred pain in the jaw, epigastrium and left upper arm may correlate clinically.

Physical Examination – Blood pressure reading may drop drastically due to ventricular dysfunction with Myocardial Infarction (MI) or it may elevate with an individual’s anxiety. Cool clammy skin with profuse sweating may indicate cardiac shock. Signs of chest congestion with distended jugulars may confirm left ventricular insufficiency. Auscultation may reveal a systolic murmur at apex where a third (S3) and fourth (S4) heart snap may be heard.

Electrocardiography (ECG/EKG) – ECG is the most important diagnostic test in ACS during an emergency set-up. This is a procedure that involves the placing of an electrode on the chest to determine the polarity and quality of the heart’s electrical discharges. The physician may be geared to note for the following ECG changes: transient ST-segment elevations, dynamic T wave changes and ST depression.

Laboratories – Immediate laboratory tests may quickly cement the diagnosis of ACS, like an elevated Creatine Kinase isoenzyme MB (CK-MB), an increased cardiac troponin and myoglobin levels. Complete Blood count and basic metabolic panel may be helpful.

Echocardiography – Utilizes sound waves to elucidate the image of the heart real time. The results are designed to reveal the size and the shape of the heart, as well as, the behavior and condition of the valves. Physicians aim to assess the pumping condition of the heart and access the extent of the damage of the heart attack.

Chest X-ray – Chest X-rays use ionizing radiation to take pictures of the chest cavity. It may reveal enlargement of the heart and detect any signs pulmonary congestion during a heart attack.

Cardiac Catheterization – This is an invasive procedure whereby a flexible plastic tube is inserted in a big vessel of the thigh, arm or neck, and threaded to the heart. Cardiac catheters may feed a dye to illustrate an arterial blockade in the affected coronaries.

Nuclear Scan – This process involves the infusion of small amounts of radioactive substance into the blood where it is absorbed in the heart. Imaging may reveal heart muscles with diminished uptake of the dye connoting cellular damage to the myocardium.

Computerized Tomography (CT) angiogram – A small amount of radioactive substance is introduced to the heart and coronary vessels where the patient is also placed under CT, physicians will hope to reveal the vessels more clearly and determine the point of blockade.

Exercise Stress Test – This diagnostic procedure may be performed when the individual is stable enough. Also known as the “treadmill” test to determine whether individuals still experience angina during exercise and exertion. This will better guide the cardiologist on his therapeutic options.

Other Possible Related Conditions?

One should also be aware that some medical conditions may present similarly, but may not be necessarily an ACS case, like pericarditis, ventricular aneurysm and Prinzmetal Angina. Nevertheless, these cases are not to be taken lightly for these cases may be potentially fatal. Individuals may also present with severe anxiety and mimic the signs. In addition, gastro intestinal reflux disease may be mistaken as chest pain.

Next, Visit ACS Treatment Options

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.