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Heart Attack Treatment

Thrombolytic Drugs
Thrombolytic ("clot-busting") drugs are used to dissolve blood clots that are blocking blood flow to the heart. When given soon after a heart attack begins, these drugs can limit or prevent permanent damage to the heart. To be most effective, they need to be given within one hour after the start of heart attack symptoms.
Angioplasty is a procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. During angioplasty, a stent, which is a tiny metal mesh tube, may be placed in the artery to help keep it open. The stent remains in the artery permanently, improving blood flow to the heart muscle and relieving chest pain.
Stenting may be particularly beneficial for women. In a large study of heart attack patients, women who received a stent were less likely to suffer a major heart complication during the following year, and also less likely to need a repeat procedure than those who received balloon angioplasty without stenting.
Open Heart Surgery
Open heart bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass surgery (or CABG for short), is often chosen when artery blockages are hard to reach or are too extensive for angioplasty. In this procedure, the surgeon takes a piece of blood vessel from the leg or chest and then attaches it to the heart artery both above and below the narrowed area. This procedure creates a new route, or "bypass," around the blockage. Afterward, the blood can use this new pathway to flow freely to the heart muscle. In some cases, more than one bypass is needed.


In addition to treatments to restore blood flow, other medications or therapies may be used as part of your treatment to reduce complications or the chances of another heart attack. Some of these medicines can include:
  • Beta blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) 
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) 
  • Nitrates
  • Anticoagulants
  • Antiplatelets
  • Medicines to treat irregular heart rhythms (known as an arrhythmia).
(Click Heart Attack Medication for more information.)
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Heart Attack Info

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