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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Attack and Unstable Angina - Treatment for Complications

Heart attacks that damage critical or large areas of the heart tend to cause more problems (complications) later. If only a small amount of heart muscle dies, the heart may still function normally after a heart attack.

The chance that these complications will occur depends on the amount of heart tissue affected by a heart attack and whether medicines are given during and after a heart attack to help prevent these complications. Your age, general health, and other things also affect your risk of complications and death.

About half of all people who have a heart attack will have a serious complication. The kinds of complications you may have depend upon the location and extent of the heart muscle damage. The most common complications are:

Treatment for heart rhythm problems

If the heart attack caused an arrhythmia, you may take medicines or you may need a cardiac device such as a pacemaker.

If your heart rate is too slow (bradycardia), your doctor may recommend a pacemaker.

Heart Rate Problems: Should I Get a Pacemaker?

If you have abnormal heart rhythms or if you are at risk for abnormal heart rhythms that can be deadly, your doctor may recommend an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

Heart Rhythm Problems: Should I Get an ICD?

For information on different types of arrhythmias, see:

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