Thrombolytics are medicines that rapidly dissolve a blood clot. They are used when
a blood clot causes an emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke. These clot-busting
medicines help blood to flow normally again.
Thrombolytics are used as soon as possible after a heart attack or stroke. These medicines
are used in the hospital. They are typically given through a vein in the hand or arm.
One example of this medicine is tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).
These medicines can greatly increase the risk of bleeding, so they are used only in
very specific situations where the risk of bleeding can be balanced against the risks
of not dissolving the blood clot rapidly.
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Powers WJ, et al. (2018). 2018 guidelines for the early management of patients with
acute ischemic stroke: A guideline for healthcare professionals from the American
Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, 49(3): e46–e99. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000158.
Accessed July 3, 2018. [Correction in Stroke, published online April 18, 2018. DOI:
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Current as of: April 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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