The key to treating coronary artery disease (CAD) is to prevent it, or at least reduce the risk of serious cardiac events (such as heart attacks). This is usually done through diet, moderate exercise, and a healthy, non-smoking active lifestyle. In addition to several lifestyle changes, your health care provider may recommend various medications, medical procedures or rehabilitation to treat coronary artery disease (CAD).
Medicines can be important to:
- Relieve the stress on your heart and lessen CAD symptoms.
- Decrease the risk of heart attack.
- Lower cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure.
- Prevent harmful blood clots.
Medicines used to treat CAD include anticoagulants, aspirin, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitroglycerin, glycoprotein IIb-IIIa, statins, and fish oil and other supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Believe it or not, intensive lifestyle medication is the most important of all “medicine” to improve your heart health. Besides being free, regular physical activity (after speaking with your doctor) and eating a more plant-based diet can markedly improve symptoms and reduce co-morbid conditions.
Severe cases of CAD may warrant medical procedures, such as:
- Angioplasty: This procedure opens blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. A thin tube with a balloon or other device is threaded through a blood vessel until it reaches the blocked artery. The balloon is then inflated, pushing the plaque against the artery wall, which widens the artery. The procedure helps to restore blood flow to the heart, alleviate chest pain and decrease the chance of a heart attack.
- CABG (coronary artery bypass graft): This procedure creates new routes for arteries and veins so they can bypass the clogged coronary arteries and reach the heart.
Cardiac rehabilitation is another treatment option, usually combined with medicine and surgical methods. Cardiac rehab usually consists of:
- Exercise training. Learning how to exercise safely, building muscle strength, and improving stamina can be very important in strengthening your heart and making it healthier. Learn how to exercise safely with heart disease.
- Education, counseling, and training. Patient education seeks to inform you of anything you may want to know about your condition, helping you make the best decisions possible to maintain good health. Counseling is available to help you cope with the stress of the condition and managing lifestyle changes.