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Cardiac Thrombolysis


What do I need to know about cardiac thrombolysis?

Cardiac thrombolysis is a procedure to dissolve or break up a blood clot near your heart. The clot may be removed with a device during the procedure. A clot that forms in the arteries or chambers of the heart can cause a heart attack. The clot can cause a stroke if it breaks off and travels to your brain. Thrombolysis needs to be done as quickly as possible to prevent heart damage or a stroke.

Thrombus and Embolus

How do I prepare for the procedure?

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare for your procedure. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. Arrange to have someone drive you home when you leave the hospital.
  • You may be given contrast liquid before or during the procedure to help the clot show up in pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. You may need blood tests and a stress test before your procedure. Talk to your healthcare provider about these or other tests you may need.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • You may be given an antibiotic to help prevent an infection caused by bacteria. You may be given local anesthesia to numb the procedure site. Your healthcare provider may choose a vein or artery in your leg, arm, elbow, groin, or neck. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing, but you should not feel any pain. You may instead be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain. Your healthcare provider will inject medicine into your IV that will help dissolve or break up the clot. It is most often given into a vein, but it may be given into an artery. If the medicine is given into an artery, a catheter is guided by x-ray so it is near the blood clot.
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored. If you have local anesthesia, healthcare providers may also frequently check your neurological (neuro) status. Your neuro status will be checked to see how well your brain is working. Healthcare providers may check your eyes, your memory, and your hand grasp.

What will happen after the procedure?

Healthcare providers will apply pressure on the procedure site to stop any bleeding. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be taken to your hospital room.

  • You will need to walk around the same day of your procedure, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Ask before you get up the first time. You may need help to stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call button to let someone know you need help.
  • Medicines:
    • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent clots. Anticoagulants may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily.
    • Antiplatelets help prevent blood clots. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.

What are the risks of cardiac thrombolysis?

Thrombolysis increases your risk for bleeding. You may have increased nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums. You may also have bleeding in your stomach or brain. Bleeding can become severe and life-threatening. If the clot is removed, the device used may cause an irregular heartbeat. You may also have an allergic reaction to the contrast liquid or to the medicine used to break up the clot.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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