Complications after a heart attack There are two types of complications, those that occur pretty much straight away, and those that happen afterwards. Immediate complications Arrhythmias – the heart beats irregularly, either too fast or too slowly. Patients may be given cardioversion – an electric current is passed through the heart. Most patients, with time, will return to regular rhythms. There are also medications for arrhythmias. Cardiogenic shock – the patient’s blood pressure suddenly drops dangerously. The heart cannot supply enough blood for the body to work adequately. The following drugs will raise blood pressure and heart functioning, Dopamine, Dobutamine, Epinephrine, and Norepinephrine. Hypoxemia – levels of blood oxygen become too low. Pulmonary edema – there is fluid accumulation in and around the lungs. DVT (deep vein thrombosis) – the deep veins of the legs and pelvis develop blood clots which either block or interrupt the flow of blood in the vein. Myocardial rupture – the heart attack damages the wall of the heart. This increases the risk of a heart wall rupture. Ventricular aneurysm – one of the chambers (ventricles) of the heart forms a bulge. Complications that can occur later: Aneurysm – scar tissue builds up on the damaged heart wall. This leads to blood clots, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms. Angina – Not enough oxygen is reaching the heart. Symptoms may be similar to those of a heart attack, especially the chest pain. Congestive heart failure – the heart can only beat very weakly. The patient feels exhausted and breathless. Edema – fluid accumulates in the ankles and legs (they swell). Future heart attacks – a person who has had a heart attack runs a higher risk of having another one, compared to other people. Loss of erectile function – erectile dysfunction is generally caused by a vascular problem. However, it can also be the result of depression. Loss of libido – this is especially the case with men. Pericarditis – the lining of the heart becomes inflamed, causing serious chest pain. Patients who comply with their doctors instructions have a much better chance of recovery than those who don’t. It is important that the doctor monitor a heart attack patient for several months afterwards.