Immediate Treatment

There are two main treatments used to try to restore blood flow through the coronary arteries once the diagnosis of heart attack has been confirmed: clot-busting medications and percutaneous coronary intervention, including coronary angioplasty and coronary stent insertion.

Clot-Busting Medications
Clot-busting medications, also called thrombolytic medications, are used to dissolve blood clots that are blocking the coronary arteries. These medications are most effective when they are given as soon as possible after the start of heart attack symptoms.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
Percutaneous coronary intervention, also called coronary angioplasty, is a nonsurgical procedure that opens blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is threaded through a blood vessel, often in the groin or the wrist, to the narrowed or blocked coronary artery. A balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to compress the plaque and the clot against the wall of the artery. During this procedure, the provider may put a small mesh tube called a stent inside the artery to help keep the blood vessel open.