Dual Antiplatelet Therapy for Heart Disease
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Within the body, the heart pumps blood through paths called vessels so that all of the body’s organs get the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly. The blood itself contains many components in addition to oxygen and nutrients, including tiny plate-shaped cell fragments fittingly called platelets. These platelets are useful because when they are needed, for example, when someone cuts a finger, the platelets can change their shape and stick together to help form clots to stop the bleeding. Platelets also form clots inside the body in the vessels that carry blood. Sometimes these internal clots are helpful, but at other times, a blocked heart vessel results in decreased blood flow, reduced oxygen supply, and ultimately injury to the heart.
Antiplatelet therapy is a term used to describe the use of medications to block platelets and therefore to help prevent the dangerous type of clotting. Dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) refers to treatment regimens in which 2 different medications that block platelets are given at the same time. DAPT is usually prescribed after a heart attack or stent placement to keep the vessels open and to prevent future heart attacks. This Cardiology Patient Page explains how this works and why DAPT is useful.
How Does the Heart Function Normally?
The heart is responsible for pumping blood to the body, providing organs with the oxygen and nutrients necessary for normal function. The heart requires its own steady supply of oxygen and nutrients to pump effectively. To meet this need, there are vessels, called coronary arteries, that supply the heart with blood, ensuring that …