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Modern Treatments for the Heart

How do doctors help someone who just had a heart attack?

Those who do suffer a heart attack receive immediate care to get blood flowing back into the heart. A patient must have blood clots removed so that blood flow to the heart resumes. For a few hours after a heart attack, the blood clot can be removed with the help of an injection that dissolves clots. If it has been more than a few hours since the heart attack, the clots need to be removed in surgery.
 
There are two types of treatment a person needs after a heart attack, doctors can try to prevent another attack and can try to replace the weakened tissue. Medication-based treatments can help reduce clots and prevent further plaque build up. In cases of severe injury, doctors can also try to compensate for the damage done to the heart with more invasive methods.

Replacing injured tissue
Someone with a seriously damaged heart may need to have it replaced. This is called a heart transplant, and this technique was developed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard, a South African Surgeon. There are about 2,000 of these transplants each year in the United States, but that is not nearly enough. Thousands more wait on long lists for donor hearts. Sadly, some of these people die.

VAD
Ventricular Assist Device

There are other methods to help heal diseased hearts. If the heart is damaged enough that it cannot beat correctly, a heart surgeon may install a ventricular assist device (VAD). The most common type of device is a left ventricular assist device. It is used most often because the left ventricle is responsible for pumping blood to the entire body and needs a lot of healthy muscle tissue to do so. The right ventricle only pumps blood to the lungs and back, which is comparatively a much shorter distance. A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a battery-powered pump that is attached to the left ventricle of the heart. In order to help a weakened left ventricle pump blood to the body, the LVAD takes blood from the left ventricle and pumps it to the aorta. By doing this, the LVAD provides the force to pump blood to the body and makes up for the weakened heart muscle. A patient could also have a right ventricular assist device or both. All VADs give the heart extra time to heal its damaged tissue and gives a patient more time to wait for an available transplant.

How can a doctor help prevent a future heart attack?
By reducing plaque and blood clots from the blood vessels with special medication and by suggesting lifestyle changes.

Milk and broccoli
A healthy diet and lifestyle is the number one way of preventing heart attacks!

For everybody, heart attack survivors and healthy adults alike, one of the best ways to prevent heart attacks is to lead a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, quitting smoking, and limiting alcoholic drinks.



Remember!

A doctor can aid a heart weakened by a heart attack with a Ventricular Assist Device or replace it altogether with a heart transplant. Anyone can prevent a heart attack with proper diet, exercise, and other healthy habits!


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