Small blood vessels called coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
- A heart attack can occur if a blood clot completely blocks one of these arteries.
Unstable anginarefers to chest pain and other warning signs that a heart attack may happen soon. It is most often caused by blood clots in the arteries.
Certain patients may be given drugs to break up the clot if the artery is completely blocked. These drugs are called thrombolytics, or clot busting drugs.
- These drugs should be given within 3 hours of when the patient first felt chest pain.
- The medicine is given through a vein (IV).
- Blood thinners taken by mouth may be prescribed later to prevent more clots from forming.
The main risk when receiving clot busting drugs is bleeding, especially bleeding in the brain.
Thrombolytic therapy is not safe for people who have:
- Bleeding inside the head or a stroke
- Brain abnormalities, such as tumors or poorly formed blood vessels
- Had a head injury within the past 3 months
- A history of using blood thinners or a bleeding disorder
- Had major surgery, a major injury, or internal bleeding within the past 3-4 weeks
- Severe high blood pressure
Other treatments that may be done instead of thrombolytic therapy are:
Angioplastyis a procedure to open narrowed or blocked arteries that supply blood to the heart. It is often the first choice treatment. Heart bypass surgeryto open narrowed or blocked arteries that supply blood to the heart may also be done. This procedure is also called “open heart surgery.”