If The Cardiogram Shows Signs That I Am Having A Heart Attack, What Are My Options?

Question: If the cardiogram shows signs that I am having a heart attack, what are my options?

Answer: Okay, so the electrocardiogram is done quickly in the emergency department, and it shows signs that you actually are having a heart attack.

There are really two different types of heart attack. On the electrocardiogram, what we look for is whether a certain portion of the electrocardiogram goes up -- we call that ST-Elevation -- or if it goes down.

If it goes up, that usually means that the entire vessel is blocked -- at least one of the three major coronary arteries, in which case we'd really like to get that vessel open very quickly.

The two most common options to open that vessel are, one: with a drug, like a clot buster drug, or two: if the hospital has the ability to do a cardiac catheterization, that is a test where we squirt dye in the arteries of the heart so we can actually see the blockage.

In many cases, that clot that's blocking the artery can be opened up with the catheter, by inserting the catheter through the soft clot, inflating and deflating the balloon and fragmenting the clot, allowing it to break up and go downstream, to open up that major blockage.

Next: Why Do Heart Attack Patients All Go To The Cardiac Care Unit (CCU)?


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