A myocardial infarction or heart attack is caused when the blood supply to the heart is disrupted. The most common cause is a blockage of the coronary arteries generally due to the build of atherosclerotic disease and/or a sudden clot. The goal of treatment it is to maintain blood flow to the heart to keep as much of the heart muscle alive as possible while opening the obstructed blood vessel.
Medications used to treat a heart attack do this by decreasing the work of the heart muscle to allow as much oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle as possible. Some medications include oxygen, nitroglycerin, morphine and beta blockers.
In many cases, a blockage of one of the vessels to the heart needs to be addressed. This can be done by clot-busting drugs called thrombolytics or by a surgical procedure called angioplasty.
Coronary artery by-pass surgery may be needed if these treatments fail or the patient is unable to undergo or tolerate medical treatment.