Thrombolytics for Heart Attack and Unstable Angina
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How It Works
Thrombolytics are used to treat some people who are having a heart attack . They are typically given in a vein (intravenously, or IV). These drugs dissolve or break up blood clots that are blocking blood flow through a coronary artery. Clots cause most heart attacks.
Why It Is Used
Thrombolytics are used in the hospital as soon as possible after a heart attack . They work best if they are given within 3 hours of a heart attack. 1
Thrombolytics are not an option for everyone. They are not used if you have a high risk of having serious problems, such as severe bleeding.
How Well It Works
After a heart attack, thrombolytic medicines help to get blood flowing back to the heart. 1
Thrombolytics are given in the hospital. So a person is watched closely for any side effects.
The most common side effect is bleeding inside the body.
Other side effects may include:
- Allergic reaction.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Thrombolytics are also used to treat blood clots that cause strokes.
- Hass EE, et al. (2011). ST-segmented elevation myocardial infarction. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst’s the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1354–1385. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Last Revised: April 29, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC – Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC – Interventional Cardiology