Western Sussex Hospitals have joined up with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals to form a new NHS Foundation Trust for our area: University Hospitals Sussex.

You can keep using this website for information about St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals but for our other sites and to find out more about the new trust please visit www.uhsussex.nhs.uk.

Cardiac conditions

These are some of the most common conditions that cardiac rehabilitation patients will have experienced:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Valve disease
  • Myocarditis
  • SCAD
  • Takotsubo
  • Aortic aneurysm, dissection and rupture

More information on these and others is available from the British Heart Foundation website:

ACS: Acute Coronary Syndrome

Acute Coronary Syndrome, or ACS, is the umbrella term for symptoms relating to narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Two of the most common ACS conditions are angina and heart attack.


Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD).  It caused is when the arteries that supply your heart muscle with blood and oxygen become narrowed. Plaques form within the arteries, and the blood supply to your heart muscle is restricted.

Angina often feels like a heaviness or tightness in your chest, and this may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach as well.

Angina symptoms are often brought on by physical activity, an emotional upset, cold weather or after a meal and usually subside after a few minutes.

Heart attack

ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI)

An STEMI is the most serious type of heart attack.

It is caused by a total blockage of the coronary artery, which leads to a long interruption to the blood supply and can cause extensive damage to a large area of the heart.

An STEMI is what most people think of when they hear the term “heart attack”.

Non-ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI)

An NSTEMI is a type of heart attack, but can be less serious than a STEMI.

This is because the supply of blood to the heart may be only partially, rather than completely, blocked when a plaque ruptures from within a coronary artery and causes its obstruction. As a result, a smaller section of the heart may be damaged.

However, an NSTEMI is still regarded as a serious medical emergency. Without treatment, it can progress to serious heart damage or STEMI.

Valve disease

There are four chambers in your heart and the valves make sure that the blood flows through them in one direction.

The two large blood vessels that leave the heart also have valves to make sure that the blood does not go back into the heart once it has been pumped out.

If the valve does not open fully, it will obstruct or restrict the flow of blood. This is called valve stenosis or narrowing. It can put extra strain on your heart, making it pump harder to force the blood past the narrowing.

If the valve does not close properly, it will allow blood to leak backwards. This is called valve incompetence, regurgitation or a leaky valve. It can put extra strain on your heart and may mean that your heart has to do extra work to pump the required volume of blood.


Myocarditis is inflammation of the myocardium – the heart muscle.

Most people with myocarditis recover without any complications but in rare cases, when inflammation is severe, there can be damage to the heart.

SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection)

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) occurs when a tear appears in the wall of a coronary artery, which supplies blood to your heart. In some cases this can lead to a heart attack.

Takotsubo (Broken Heart Syndrome)

This diagnosis is quite often caused by significant emotional stress.

The muscle of the heart becomes stunned, which causes the shape of one of its chambers to change shape temporarily.

One of the possible causes maybe during the emotional / stressful moment when a surge of adrenaline is released, causing the stunning effect.

Aortic aneurysm, dissection and rupture

The main artery in your body is called the aorta, which carries oxygen-rich blood away from your heart to the rest of your body and your brain. An aortic aneurysm is a swelling or bulging of the aorta.




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