2 Heart Disease



Heart Disease Treatment

Heart disease is treated in a number of ways, depending on the seriousness of the disease.  For many people, heart disease is managed with lifestyle changes and medications.  People with severe heart disease may need surgery.  In any case, once heart disease develops, it requires lifelong management.

Lifestyle Changes

Although great advances have been made in treating heart disease, changing one's habits remains the single most effective way to stop the disease from progressing.

If you know that you have heart disease, changing your diet to one low in fat, especially saturated fat, and cholesterol will help reduce high blood cholesterol, a primary cause of atherosclerosis.  In fact, it is even more important to keep your cholesterol low after a heart attack to help lower your risk of having another one.

Eating less fat should also help you lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower blood cholesterol and is the most effective lifestyle way to reduce high blood pressure, another risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease.

People with heart disease can also benefit from exercise. Recent research has shown that even moderate amounts of physical activity are associated with lower death rates from heart disease. However, people with severe heart disease may have to restrict their exercise somewhat. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor to find out what kinds of exercise are best for you.

Smoking is one of the three major risk factors for heart disease. Quitting smoking dramatically lowers the risk of a heart attack and also reduces the risk of a second heart attack in people who have already had one.

Medications used to treat coronary heart disease

Medications are prescribed according to the nature of the patient's heart disease and other problems.

The symptoms of angina can generally be controlled by "beta-blocker" drugs that decrease the workload on the heart, by nitroglycerine and other "nitrates" and by "calcium-channel blockers" that relax the arteries, and by other classes of drugs. The tendency to form clots is reduced by aspirin or by other platelet inhibitory and anticoagulant drugs. Beta-blockers are given to decrease the recurrence of heart attack.

For those with elevated blood cholesterol that is unresponsive to dietary and weight loss measures, cholesterol-lowering drugs may be prescribed, such as lovastatin, colestipol, cholestyramine, gemfibrozil, and niacin. Impaired pumping function of the heart may be treated with digitalis drugs or ACE inhibitors. If there is high blood pressure or fluid retention, these conditions are also treated.

Ask your doctor which medication you are taking, what it does, and whether there are any side effects. Knowing more about this will help you stick to the schedule that has been prescribed for you.


Coronary Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, Testing for heart disease, Treatment Options, Surgery Options, Additional Resources





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