Treatment for Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death of adult men and women in the United States. Affecting more than 14 million people, it is responsible for more deaths than the next seven causes of death combined. Until very recently, treatment for coronary heart disease focused exclusively on preventing the condition from getting worse and reducing risk factors and complications.

Drug Treatment

Medications to treat underlying conditions and reduce risk factors are an important part of treatment for coronary heart disease. In addition, there are medications that are prescribed specifically to treat the heart disease. They include:

* Aspirin: reduces the risk of blood clots developing in the coronary artery

* Beta blockers: decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces the demand for oxygen. May prevent future heart attacks and sudden death.

* Nitroglycerin: reduces chest pain by decreasing the heart’s demand for oxygen and by dilating the coronary arteries

* ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers: reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow

* Statins: help reduce cholesterol and other fats in your blood, thus slowing the progression of coronary heart diseases

Surgical Treatment

There are a number of procedures used in treatment for coronary heart disease that are not considered surgery, though they are invasive procedures. They include coronary angioplasty, placement of a stent or an atherectomy to widen blocked arteries and hold them open. Cardiologists may also try to burn away plaques blocking arteries with radiation. In cases where the disease does not respond to medication or lesser invasive therapies, surgeons may do a coronary bypass grafting. A CABG involves taking a vein from your chest, arm or leg and creating a bypass around the blocked vein.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Lifestyle changes are the most important factors in any treatment for coronary heart disease, from prevention to management. A heart-healthy diet that includes whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit and derives no more than 30% of daily calorie intake from fat is a powerful preventive tool and can help keep coronary heart disease from worsening. In addition, regular exercise helps balance your cholesterol profile, reduce your weight and control your blood sugar, all risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Alternative Therapies

A number of “alternative therapies” for heart disease have become mainstream over the past several years. Standard treatment for coronary heart disease now often includes fish oil capsules for omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation throughout the body. Other supplements that may be helpful to reduce blood pressure or cholesterol or both include garlic, barley, beta-sitosterol and oat bran found in whole oat cereals and bread products.

Stem Cell Therapy for Coronary Heart Disease

Recent advances in medical technology suggest that new therapies using stem cells and growth factors may offer the possibility of reversing damage to the heart muscle, something that traditional treatment for coronary heart disease cannot do.