Medications can be an effective tool in treating a heart attack and preventing future attacks. The most commonly used medications for treatment of heart attack include the following.

Thrombolytic Medicines

Also called “clot busters,” thrombolytic medicines are used immediately following a heart attack in places where catheterization is not readily available. Administered through an IV, the medicine works by quickly dissolving any major clots in the arteries and restoring blood flow to the heart. If blood flow does not return to normal, additional treatments or surgery may be required. Some examples of thrombolytic medicines include:

  • alteplase (Activase)
  • anistreplase (Eminase)
  • strptokinase (Streptase)
  • tissue plasminogen activator (TPA)
  • urokinase (Abbokinase)

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are a class of medications used to treat high blood pressure, as well as other diseases and conditions. The medicines essentially make it easier for your heart to do its job by blocking the effects of adrenaline and slowing nerve impulses to your heart. Beta blockers are used to relieve chest pain and improve blood flow after heart attack. Some examples of beta blockers used to relieve chest pain in post-heart attacl patient include:

  • atenolol (Apo-atenolol)
  • carvedilol (Coreg)
  • ametoprolol (Toprol)

ACE Inhibitors

Like beta blockers, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors treat high blood pressure and other conditions. ACE inhibitors help relax and widen the blood vessels by blocking the production of an enzyme that causes the vessels to narrow. ACE inhibitors can improve blood flow, reduce strain on your heart, and help avoid further damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack.  Some examples of ACE inhibitors include:

  • benazepril (Lotensin)
  • captopril (Capoten)
  • enalapril (Vasotec)
  • fosinopril (Monopril)
  • lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • moexipril (Univasc)
  • perindopril (Aceon)
  • quinapril (Accupril)
  • ramipril (Altace)
  • trandolapril (Mavik)


More commonly referred to as blood thinners, anticoagulants reduce the risk of clotting in heart attack patients. Examples of anticoagulants include:

  • heparin
  • lepirudin (Refludan)
  • warfarin (Coumadin)

Antiplatelet Agents

Aspirin is the most well known type of antiplatelet medicine. These types of drugs prevent clotting in the arteries by keeping blood platelets from sticking together. Antiplatelet agents are typically used by people who have had a heart attack and are at risk for additional clotting. Antiplatelets can also be used to treat people with several risk factors for heart attack and with evident plaque buildup in the arteries.  Besides aspirin, antiplatelet agents include:

  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Ticlopidine (Ticlid)
  • Eptafibitide (Integrilin)

Of these medications, only aspirin is commonly used to reduce the risk of heart attack.