43 Heart attacks are almost always treated at the hospital, and every minute counts. A heart attack patient will often be given medication to help break up the blockage that is causing the heart attack. These medications can include: ■■ Aspirin to reduce blood clotting ■■ Antiplatelet medications, such as clopidogrel VIDEO Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms ■■ Clot-busting medications, which are sometimes called thrombolytics and are typically given as soon as possible ■■ Other blood-thinning medications, such as heparin, to make your blood less likely to form more clots ■■ Pain relievers to ease the discomfort in your chest or other affected areas ■■ Nitroglycerin, which is used to treat chest pain (angina) and improve blood flow to your heart ■■ Beta blockers, which help your heart muscle relax, slow the heartbeat, and lower blood pressure ■■ Cholesterol-lowering medications, which can be helpful when given right after a heart attack Medications are just one line of treatment for heart attacks. Sometimes doctors will perform an emergency angioplasty to open blocked coronary arteries. This procedure involves inserting a long, thin tube called a catheter through an artery (usually in your leg or groin) to where the artery is blocked. Once in place, a balloon on the catheter is briefly inflated to open up the blocked artery, and sometimes a metal mesh stent is inserted into the artery to keep it open. Your doctor may choose a specially medicated stent, called a drug-eluting stent, to help keep the coronary artery open.
P750-A 7 Steps to a Healthy Heart
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