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In the hospital, the doctor will work right away to return blood flow to your heart. You may get medicines to break up and prevent blood clots. You may get nitroglycerin and other medicines that make your arteries wider. This helps improve blood flow and relieve symptoms, such as chest pain or pressure. You also may get pain medicine and oxygen.
During angioplasty, doctors inflate a small balloon to open the artery. A stent, a wire mesh tube, may be permanently placed in the artery to keep it open. For hospitals not equipped to do angioplasty quickly, drugs may be used to dissolve blood clots, but more hospitals are making the procedure available in a timely manner, Bolger said.