Obstruction in blood flow to a part of the heart causes heart attack. Starved of oxygen, the cells of the affected area of the heart die, causing permanent damage to the heart muscle. Heart attack is a medical emergency. It can be fatal if not treated on time.
A blood clot or plague build-up in a coronary artery is primarily responsible for blocking blood flow to the heart muscle. The chest pain experienced during a heart attack is primarily treated with nitroglycerine or morphine. Removing the obstruction from the coronary artery helps to ease blood flow.
This can be done with the help of drugs that help to dissolve clots or through surgery. After a heart attack, risk of further attacks is diminished with the help of blood thinning drugs, cholesterol-reducing medications and drugs that help to restore the pumping function of the heart.
Medications That Treat Heart Attack
Aspirin is widely used as a first line treatment for easing blood flow to the heart during a heart attack. As soon as you experience the symptoms of heart attack, it helps to take an aspirin before rushing to the emergency unit of a hospital.
By thinning the blood, aspirin inhibits formation of blood clots and improves blood flow. When taken during a heart attack, aspirin increases the chance of survival. Aspirin is also recommended to prevent further heart attacks.
Clopidogrel is also known as super aspirin. By inhibiting aggregation of platelets, it prevents blood clotting. The anti-inflammatory effect of the drug diminishes the risks of further heart attacks. Usually 300 mg of clopidogrel is taken for treating heart attack, followed by daily intake of 75 mg of the drug or a combination of aspirin and clopidogrel. People with liver diseases that reduce secretion of liver enzymes may not respond to clopidogrel.
Thrombolytic medications are used for dissolving the blood clots. These drugs increase the chance of survival when taken within 12 hours after the heart attack. However, they are most effective when taken within 90 minutes after a heart attack.
Among the different thrombolytic drugs, drugs known as tissue plasminogen activators such as alteplase, reteplase and tenecteplase are commonly used for dissolving clots in coronary arteries. Anistreplase, urokinase and streptokinase are other drugs that can be used for treatment.
Heparin is injected intravenously or subcutaneously to treat blood clots. Heparin is an anticoagulant that prevents formation of dangerous blood clots and eases blood flow.
Nitroglycerin belongs to a class of drugs known as vasodilators. By relaxing the blood vessels, it eases blood flow to the heart.
Nitroglycerin helps to reduce chest pain. It is taken sublingually during a heart attack.
By relaxing the heart muscle, beta-blockers reduce the pumping load of the heart. It relaxes the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. It also helps to slow the heat beat. By reducing damage to the heart muscle, these drugs increase the chance of survival. Beta-blockers are also recommended for diminishing the risk of further heart attacks.
Pain Relief Medications
Severe chest pain during a heart attack may be treated with powerful pain relief drugs such as morphine.
Cholesterol Lowering Drugs
Cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins, fibrates, niacin and bile acid sequestrants benefit the heart by reducing the harmful cholesterol level in the blood.