Heart Attack - Myocardial Infarction (MI) Treatment
A heart attack is a life and death medical emergency. You should call the emergency medical services in your area, usually 911, if you or someone else experiences one or more signs of a heart attack. Receiving emergency medical treatment as soon as possible is vital for sustaining life. You should not drive yourself to the hospital if you suspect that you are having a heart attack. Instead, call emergency medical services for an ambulance.
After contacting emergency medical services, you can help a person that is having a heart attack breathe easier by helping the person to a restful position. A half-sitting position may be helpful. You should increase the flow of oxygen to a person by loosening his or her collar and opening a window. If the person has prescription nitroglycerin, have the person place it beneath his or her tongue. If the person is not allergic to aspirin, give the person 160-320 mg. of aspirin, which they should chew. Aspirin helps to prevent blood clotting. Monitor the person’s pulse, heart rate, breathing, level of consciousness, and if possible, blood pressure. If the person’s heart stops, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you are trained to do so.
The goals of ambulance and emergency room treatments are to stop the progression of the heart attack, promote healing, and prevent complications. A person’s heart is continuously monitored with an ECG. Medications and fluids are delivered through an intravenous (IV) line. Medication may be administered to reduce pain, thin the blood, reduce the workload of the heart, and prevent heart failure. Oxygen is provided to reduce the workload of the heart. A urinary catheter is used to measure urine output.
If a person’s heart stops beating, the medical personnel can perform CPR. They can also use automatic external defibrillation (AED). An AED may correct an irregular heart rhythm or restart a heart that has stopped beating. More and more AEDs are being located in public places, such as school gyms, for quick access.
Early advanced medical care is necessary for an optimal outcome. People are usually monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital while their medical condition stabilizes. In some cases, emergency surgery may be required.
A coronary angioplasty is a procedure that opens blocked coronary arteries. A stent may be inserted to ensure that the coronary artery remains open. Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) is a surgery which involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body to create a detour around a clogged artery to restore the blood flow to the heart. Blood vessels are commonly taken from the leg and surgically attached to the coronary artery. It may be necessary to have bypass surgery on one or more coronary arteries.
Your activity level may be restricted for a few months following a heart attack. Your doctor may order tests to learn more about the condition of your heart and identify treatable causes. You will gradually increase your activity level with cardiac rehabilitation therapy.
You should make lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy. This may include maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, avoiding alcohol, eating healthy foods, and regular aerobic exercise. You should take all of your medications as directed. Follow up care is necessary to prevent a second heart attack and associated medical complications.
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