A heart attack occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery. Also referred to as a myocardial infarction, heart attack is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention.
The most effective treatment for stroke must be given immediately — within three hours after symptoms begin. For this reason, the medical community has been educating the public about stroke symptoms and the need for immediate emergency care.
A clot-dissolving medication called tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) can restore blood flow and oxygen to brain tissue affected by a stroke. In treating thrombotic stroke, clot-prevention medications, such as heparin, are used in later hours after a stroke, to prevent existing blood clots from getting bigger and to prevent new clots from forming. After a stroke has stabilized, aspirin or another mild blood-thinning agent (such as ticlopidine or clopidogrel) is usually prescribed daily to prevent another stroke.
However, t-PA is not helpful to treat hemorrhagic stroke. Sometimes, the hemorrhaged blood may have to be removed through surgery to relieve pressure on the brain. Occasionally, testing reveals an abnormality of a blood vessel (such as a ballooning blood vessel wall, known as an aneurysm). If a blood vessel abnormality is identified, it may require treatment with surgery in order to prevent another stroke.
Based on the patient’s health, doctors may perform emergency bypass surgery at the time of a heart attack. Usually, it is done after your heart has had time to recover from your heart attack. The medical procedure involves sewing veins or arteries in place at a site beyond a blocked or narrowed coronary artery to restore blood flow to the heart.
Coronary angioplasty is done along with coronary catheterization (angiogram). The narrowed arteries to the heart are located and damage to your heart is restored.
A person who has experienced a significant stroke of any type usually is hospitalized for observation in case the symptoms worsen. A severe stroke can affect breathing, and some people may need a mechanical ventilator to help them breathe. People who have had a stroke may need help with self-care or feeding.
Early intervention by an occupational therapist and physical therapist is helpful. These therapists can help a person work around a new disability and regain strength after brain injury. Commonly, hospitalization is followed by a period of residence at a rehabilitation center, where additional therapy may be provided intensively. The goal of rehabilitation is to maximize recovery. If you encounter someone who is unconscious from a presumed heart attack, call for emergency medical help.
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