Coronary heart disease : Treatment

Treatment

You may be asked to take one or more medicines to treat blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels. Follow your doctor’s directions closely to help prevent coronary artery disease from getting worse. Goals for treating these conditions in those who have coronary artery disease are:

  • LDL cholesterol level less than or equal to 100 mg/dL
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels less than or equal to 7%
  • Blood pressure less than or equal to 120/80 mmHg

Taking aspirin with or without clopidogrel (Plavix) helps prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries and reduces your risk of having a heart attack. Ask your doctor if you should be taking these.

Treatment depends on your symptoms and how severe the disease is. Your doctor may give you one or more medicines to treat CHD, including:

  • ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure and protect your heart
  • Beta-blockers to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen use by the heart
  • Calcium channel blockers to relax arteries, lowering blood pressure and reducing strain on the heart
  • Diuretics to lower blood pressure and treat congestive heart failure
  • Nitrates (such as nitroglycerin) to stop chest pain and improve blood supply to the heart
  • Statins to lower cholesterol

NEVER ABRUPTLY STOP TAKING ANY OF THESE DRUGS. Always talk to your doctor first. Stopping these drugs suddenly can make your angina worse or cause a heart attack.

Procedures and surgeries used to treat CHD include:

  • Angioplasty and stent placement, called percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs)
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Minimally invasive heart surgery

Lifestyle changes are very important. Your doctor may tell you to:

  • Avoid or reduce the amount of salt (sodium) you eat
  • Eat a heart healthy diet — one that is low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and trans fat
  • Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep your blood sugar strictly under control if you have diabetes
  • Stop smoking

See also: Healthy heart diet

Prognosis (Expectations)

Everyone recovers differently. Some people can maintain a healthy life by changing their diet, stopping smoking, and taking medications exactly as the doctor prescribes. Others may need medical procedures such as angioplasty or surgery.

Although everyone is different, early detection of CHD generally results in a better outcome.

Complications

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Unstable angina
  • Sudden death

Calling Your Health Care Provider

If you have any of the risk factors for CHD, contact your doctor to discuss prevention and possible treatment.

Immediately contact your health care provider, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or go to the emergency room if you have:

  • Angina
  • Shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of a heart attack


Review Date : 4/23/2009
Reviewed By : Steven Kang, MD, Division of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology, East Bay Arrhythmia, Cardiovascular Consultants Medical Group, Oakland, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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