Intake of oral medications like antiplatelets, thrombolytics, and use of surgical procedures like coronary angioplasty are some of the ways to treat a heart attack.
A heart attack is a condition in which a part of the heart is deprived of blood supply. This happens because a blood clot is formed in an artery that carries blood to the heart. As the clot interrupts the blood flow, the affected area of the heart muscle gets damaged due to lack of oxygen. Sharp squeezing chest pain followed by shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting are some of the common symptoms of a heart attack.
The treatment primarily aims at resuming the blood flow as early as possible. It will vary depending upon the amount of damage inflicted to the heart muscles. Patients who have had a mild heart attack may not require a surgery to restore normal blood circulation.
This is the first line of treatment that helps to restore normal blood flow to the heart at the earliest:
Aspirin is formulated to counteract the effects of blood clotting. It interferes with the action of platelets – blood cells responsible for causing clots. Antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin decreases the size of blood clot substantially, thereby promoting normal blood flow to the heart. Aspirin therapy for a stipulated period of time works to minimize the chances of heart attacks in the future.
When it comes to dissolving or melting those blood clots, one can certainly trust thrombolytics like Eminase (Anistreplase). These clot busting drugs do an excellent job of removing the obstruction from the arteries. Be it unblocking the arteries or preventing formation of new clots, these drugs certainly serve the purpose.
Beta blockers like Acebutolol are commonly used in the treatment of high blood pressure. With decrease in blood pressure, the heart requires less blood and oxygen to work effectively. The ability of the heart to relax also increases, which is good for overall well-being.
As the name suggests, vasodilators are formulated to dilate the blood vessels, which in turns helps to improve the blood circulation to the heart. With increased blood flow, oxygen supply to the heart also increases. These positive changes in the blood flow are beneficial to improve the heart’s condition and reduce the impact of damage.
In order to reduce blood cholesterol levels, doctors may prescribe statins. These drugs lower cholesterol as well as get rid of bad cholesterol.
A severe heart attack demands surgical intervention and use of medications alone might not help to unblock the clogged arteries. Following are some of the surgical methods:
This procedure involves use of a thin, long tube (catheter) to unblock the artery. Before starting the surgery, firstly the doctors have to determine the location of obstruction. This is achieved through an angiogram (X-ray test that provides images of what’s happening inside the arteries). Once the location of obstruction is detected, the catheter is introduced through an artery of the leg.
The catheter is then pushed until it reaches the spot where the blood clot has occurred. A balloon tip attached to the catheter is then allowed to expand, which helps to remove the blockage. During this procedure, a metal mesh stent might be placed in the area where the blockage was observed. The mesh prevents that part of artery from narrowing, thereby reducing the chances of heart problems in the future.
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
In this surgical procedure, the path of blood circulation to the heart is diverted so that it skips (bypasses) the area of blockage. This is achieved by attaching (stitching) an artery from the chest to the coronary artery below and above the obstructed area. This ensures that the blockage does not come in the way of blood flow, thereby allowing proper blood circulation to and from the heart.
Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
Do not forget to lead a healthy lifestyle to keep the heart healthy years down the line. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart ailments. An exercise routine like brisk walking for 25 to 30 minutes everyday benefits to reduce excess weight and alleviate stress on the heart muscles. Apart from this simple exercise, one should follow a diet that keeps the heart in good condition. More specifically, avoid foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol and do not forget to include a wide variety of green vegetables and fruits in the diet. Unhealthy habits like smoking also have to be discontinued permanently to prevent heart problems in the long run.
A point to note here is that the aforementioned medications are most effective when administered within the first hour from the onset of heart attack symptoms. So, it is necessary to act fast because even a small delay in treatment can cause life-threatening consequences. Also, these medications are prescription medicines and should not be given without consulting a qualified doctor.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.