When a person has a heart attack, blood clots develop, which block blood flow to the heart or brain. Thrombolytic agents, or clot busters , is a medication given through the veins to dissolve blood clots, often within minutes, if given right after a heart attack. Clot busters also prevent ongoing damage of heart attacks, prevent strokes, and break up blood clots found in other vessels in the body.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention/Coronary Angioplasty
During a heart attack, the coronary arteries—vessels that supply blood to the heart—often are blocked by a blood clot and a waxy substance called plaque. As the plaque hardens, the coronary arteries become narrow, reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
A percutaneous coronary intervention, also called a coronary angioplasty, restores blood flow to the heart. Physicians will either place stents (small mesh tubes), or a thin tube (catheter) with a balloon at its tip through the affected artery to open the vessel up again. Baylor St. Luke’s is among select U.S. hospitals do the procedure through the patient’s wrist rather than the groin to access the blood vessel—known as wrist access cardiac catheterization or radial artery access.
Patients who do not respond to these interventions may then need further emergency care, such as coronary artery bypass surgery or a related procedure.