An early diagnosis is crucial to the treatment of a heart attack as it allows interventional cardiologists to open up the blocked artery quickly and effectively to minimise the extent of damage to the heart muscle. Currently, there are two treatment options to remove the blockage in the artery. The fastest way to treat a heart attack is to give a powerful blood-thinning medication (thrombolytic agents) to dissolve the clot and therefore remove the blockage in the artery. Any qualified physician can administer this immediately upon diagnosis of a heart attack. However, it is only effective in slightly more than 50% of the patients and may cause serious bleeding complications in other areas, including the brain.
A more effective way to unblock the artery is by inserting a balloon or stent through a small puncture in the groin or wrist to open up the artery This procedure is known as coronary angioplasty and has been successful in more than 90% of the cases. However, this is a procedure needs to be performed in the procedure suite or catheterisation laboratory and requires experienced operators. At the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), emergency angioplasty for patients who are admitted for heart attack is available round the clock.
A balloon is inserted into the narrowed or blocked artery through a stent and inflated
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