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Heart attack

Heart attack
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Heart attack treatments

3-minute read

Too many people lose their lives because they wait too long to get treatment for heart attacks

If you are having a heart attack, calling triple zero (000) for an ambulance may reduce damage to your heart and increase your chance of survival. 

If calling triple zero (000) doesn't work on your mobile phone, try 112.

  • Ambulance paramedics are trained to use special lifesaving equipment and to start early treatments for heart attack inside the ambulance. 
  • In hospital, you will receive treatments that help to reduce damage to your heart.  


Heart attack treatment can include the use of special clot-dissolving medicines that are administered directly into your blood stream. These medicines are called thombolytics or fibrinolytics.

Angioplasty and stent implantation

Coronary angioplasty is a procedure that aims to restore blood flow to your heart by using a special balloon to open a blocked artery from the inside. After angioplasty is performed to open up a blocked coronary artery, a special expandable metal tube ('stent') is usually put into the site, expanded, and left in place to keep your artery open.

Bypass surgery

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (often shortened to CABG and pronounced 'cabbage') is an operation in which blood flow is redirected around a narrowed area in one or more of your coronary arteries, allowing blood to flow more freely to your heart muscle.


There is a high risk of dangerous changes to your heartbeat after the start of a heart attack. The most serious changes stop your heart beating and cause a cardiac arrest. The best treatment for cardiac arrest involves using a defibrillator to give your heart a controlled electric shock that may make it start beating again.

Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs)

After recovering from a heart attack, some people may develop, or be at high risk of developing, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that could be life-threatening. Sometimes a small device can be put into your chest and connected to your heart to treat an arrhythmia if it occurs. This device is called an 'implantable cardiac defibrillator' (ICD).

Modern treatments and healthy lifestyle choices can help your heart attack recovery, greatly reduce your risk of further heart problems, and relieve or control symptoms such as angina.

To reduce your risk and aid your recovery:

If you have diabetes, you should generally aim to keep your blood glucose levels within the normal non-diabetic range and follow individual advice from your doctor or accredited diabetes educator.

Remember that if you have already had a heart attack, you are at higher risk of having another in the future. Make sure you know the warning signs and talk to your doctor about an action plan to follow if you experience chest pain or other heart attack symptoms.

Cardiac rehabilitation

The Heart Foundation and the World Health Organization recommend that people who have had a heart attack, heart surgery, coronary angioplasty, angina or other heart or blood vessel disease attend an appropriate cardiac rehabilitation and prevention program.

These programs help you to make practical, potentially life-saving changes to the way in which you live. They can provide you and your family with education, information, physical activity programs and support, which can complement the help that your doctor or cardiologist gives you.

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Last reviewed: July 2018

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