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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Heart Attack: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Heart Attack

Heart Attack

Alternate Names : Myocardial Infarction, MI

Heart Attack | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

The sooner treatment begins, the better the chance the person will survive. Taking an aspirin as early as possible after the onset of pain is very important. Aspirin acts as a blood thinner. This helps get oxygen-rich blood to the oxygen-deprived heart muscle.

Other blood thinners are used once the person arrives in an emergency department. Some blood thinners are very powerful. They dissolve the clot that is blocking the artery and causing the heart attack. Oxygen will be given to reduce damage to the heart tissue. A medicine known as nitroglycerin is given to decrease the work of the heart. Morphine may be given as well to reduce pain and decrease the work the heart has to do.

A person who has had a heart attack often undergoes a procedure known as a cardiac catheterization or cardiac angiogram. A contrast agent is injected into the coronary arteries. Using an X-ray procedure, the doctor can watch the blood flow through the heart and see if a blockage has occurred.

Some blockages in the coronary arteries can be opened using a special catheter with a balloon on the end. This balloon is inserted through the narrowed artery and inflated to open the artery and allow blood to flow. This procedure is called balloon angioplasty. If the artery will not stay open, a stent, or hollow tube, can be inserted to hold the artery open.

The cardiac catheterization may show blockage in many arteries. If this is the case, heart bypass surgery may be necessary. A blood vessel from another part of the body is grafted onto the coronary artery. The graft provides a new route for blood to get to the heart muscle.

After recovery from the acute phase of the heart attack, the person may be enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program. This gradual exercise program will help the person safely resume a healthy lifestyle.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects of medicines can include headache, dizziness, allergic reactions, and upset stomach. Blood-thinning medicines may increase the risk of bleeding and hemorrhage. Heart bypass surgery can cause bleeding, infection, allergic reaction to anesthesia, and death.

What happens after treatment for the condition?

After the initial emergency treatment of a heart attack, any underlying disorders will be treated. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and obesity.

How is the condition monitored?

The person will need to visit the healthcare provider regularly so medicines can be adjusted. The provider will monitor blood pressure, weight, and other major factors. Regular stress EKGs may be done to make sure there is proper blood flow to the heart. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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Heart Attack: Prevention & Expectations


Author: Vincent J. Toups, MD
Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 08/10/01

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