Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Treatment for Heart Attacks


Treatment options for heart attack, and acute coronary syndrome, include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Relieving pain and discomfort using nitroglycerin or morphine
  • Controlling any arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Blocking further clotting (if possible), using aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix), as well as possibly anticoagulant drugs such as heparin
  • Opening up the artery that is blocked as soon as possible, by performing angioplasty or using medicines that open up the clot
  • Giving the patient beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or ACE inhibitor drugs to help the heart muscle and arteries work better

Immediate Treatments to Support the Patient

Early supportive treatments are similar for patients who have ACS or those who have had a heart attack.

Oxygen. Oxygen is almost always administered right away, usually through a tube that enters through the nose.

Aspirin. The patient is given aspirin if one was not taken at home.

Medications for Relieving Symptoms.

  • Nitroglycerin. Most patients will receive nitroglycerin during and after a heart attack, usually under the tongue. Nitroglycerin decreases blood pressure and opens the blood vessels around the heart, increasing blood flow. Nitroglycerin may be given intravenously in certain cases (recurrent angina, heart failure, or high blood pressure).
  • Morphine. Morphine not only relieves pain and reduces anxiety but also opens blood vessels, aiding the circulation of blood and oxygen to the heart. Morphine can decrease blood pressure and slow down the heart. In patients in whom such effects may worsen their heart attacks, other drugs may be used.

Opening the Arteries: Emergency Angioplasty or Thrombolytic Drugs

Review Date: 05/05/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)