Drugs used during a heart attack may include:
- Aspirin to prevent blood clotting that may worsen the heart attack.
- Other antiplatelets, such as Plavix, to prevent blood clotting.
- Thrombolytic therapy (“clot busters”) to dissolve any blood clots in the heart’s arteries.
- Any combination of the above
Other drugs, given during or after a heart attack, lessen your heart’s work, improve the functioning of the heart, widen or dilate your blood vessels, decrease your pain, and guard against any life-threatening heart rhythms.
Are There Other Treatment Options for a Heart Attack?
During or shortly after a heart attack, you may go to the cardiac cath lab for direct evaluation of the status of your heart, arteries, and the amount of heart damage. In some cases, procedures (such as angioplasty or stents) are used to open up your narrowed or blocked arteries.
If necessary, bypass surgery may be performed in following days to restore the heart muscle’s supply of blood.
Treatments (medications, open heart surgery, and interventional procedures, like angioplasty) do not cure coronary artery disease. Having had a heart attack or treatment does not mean you will never have another heart attack; it can happen again. But, there are several steps you can take to prevent further attacks.
How Are Future Heart Attacks Prevented?
The goal after your heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risks of having another heart attack. Your best bet to ward off future attacks are to take your medications, change your lifestyle, and see you doctor for regular heart checkups.
Why Do I Need to Take Drugs After a Heart Attack?
Drugs are prescribed after a heart attack to:
- Prevent future blood clots.
- Lessen the work of your heart and improve your heart’s performance and recovery.
- Prevent plaques by lowering cholesterol.
Other drugs may be prescribed if needed. These include medications to treat irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure, control angina, and treat heart failure.
It is important to know the names of your medications, what they are used for, and how often and at what times you need to take them. Your doctor or nurse should review your medications with you. Keep a list of your medications and bring them to each of your doctor visits. If you have questions about, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
What Lifestyle Changes Are Needed After a Heart Attack?
There is no cure for coronary artery disease. In order to prevent the progression of heart disease and another heart attack, you must follow your doctor’s advice and make necessary lifestyle changes. You can stop smoking, lower your blood cholesterol, control your diabetes and high blood pressure, follow an exercise plan, maintain an ideal body weight, and control stress.
When Will I See My Doctor Again After I Leave the Hospital?
Make a doctor’s appointment for four to six weeks after you leave the hospital following a heart attack. Your doctor will want to check the progress of your recovery. Your doctor may ask you to undergo diagnostic tests (such as an exercise stress test at regular intervals. These tests can help your doctor diagnose the presence or progression of blockages in your coronary arteries and plan treatment.
Call your doctor sooner if you have symptoms such as chest pain that becomes more frequent, increases in intensity, lasts longer, or spreads to other areas; shortness of breath, especially at rest; dizziness, or irregular heartbeats.
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