Early treatment for a heart attack can limit damage to the heart muscle and prevent death. This is why it's critical to act fast and call 911 at the first symptoms of a heart attack. Captain Miller, can you tell us about treatment for a heart attack?
I certainly can, Dr. Phillips. Calling 911 for emergency medical care allows medical personnel to begin diagnosis and treatment before arriving at the hospital. Certain treatments are usually started immediately if a heart attack is suspected, even before the diagnosis is confirmed. These include:
- Aspirin to prevent further blood clotting
- Nitroglycerin to reduce the heart's workload and improve blood flow through the coronary arteries
- Oxygen, and
- Treatment for chest pain
Once the diagnosis of a heart attack is confirmed or strongly suspected, providers start other prompt treatments to restore blood flow through the coronary arteries. The two main treatments are clot-busting medications and a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention, or coronary angioplasty.
After a patient has been stabilized, other treatments can begin. These treatments help the patient recover from heart attack and prevent future heart attacks. They can include:
- Coronary artery bypass grafting
- Lifestyle changes, and
- Cardiac rehabilitation