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Thrombolytics for Heart Attack and Unstable Angina

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
alteplaseActivase
reteplaseRetavase
streptokinaseStreptase
tenecteplaseTNKase

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

Side Effects

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:

  • Fever
  • 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.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. 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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Last Revised February 13, 2013

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