Heart Attack Treatment

Heart Attack Treatment

If you have suffered from a heart attack, you're going to be rushed for treatment as soon as you can call for help.

There are several different things that can be done if you've had a heart attack, and all of these treatments are aimed firstly at avoiding saving your life, and secondly at minimizing the damage done to your heart and to your body.

First Steps in Heart Attack Treatment

First of all, the emergency medical personnel who respond to your call for help will do everything they can to restore normal blood flow to your heart. This is critical in that the sooner it is done, the less damage your body may take. The faster treatment can begin, the less damage you'll have.

One thing medical personnel will do when they first assess your status is take an ECG reading to get an idea of how much electrical activity is going on in your heart. If you're in cardiac arrest, however, or if you've got an abnormal heart beat, they may have to use a defibrillator to shock your heart back to into beating. This device is what you often see on television and movies as the classic set of paddles that are placed on a person's chest. The operator shouts, "clear!" and then the shock is applied.

CPR may also be performed if someone is qualified to do so. This is a life-saving method that can be done before the trained medical professionals arrive, and in many cases, it saves the patient's life.

Blood Clots

If a blood clot or a blocked artery is the cause of the heart attack, one emergency treatment is to give the patient specific medications and drugs that can dissolve the clot or blockage, thus restoring blood flow to the heart.

Some Advanced Treatments

Another, newer treatment is called cardiocerebral resuscitation. This involves applying uninterrupted chest compressions for about two minutes, then using either a defibrillator or performing standard CPR. If, after using the defibrillator or performing CPR for several minutes, the patient's heart is still not beating, the process is repeated. Sometimes, the drug epinephrine is also used when performing cardiocerebral resuscitation. This drug constricts the blood vessels.

Another immediate treatment that can be done is mild therapeutic hypothermia. This involves lowering the patient's body temperature to less than 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit while he or she is in cardiac arrest. This should be done as soon as the patient is resuscitated, and his or her body temperature should be kept at this lower degree for up to 24 hours. This can be done by using ice packs, fans, and special cooling blankets.

Time is of the Essence

While all of these treatments are an option for those who are suffering from a heart attack, it is important to remember that none of them work well unless they're administered right away. Time is the main enemy of anyone dealing with a heart attack. The faster they can be taken to an emergency room or passed off to trained medical professionals, the better. Otherwise, the risk of permanent damage will only increase the longer they have to wait for treatment.