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Heart Disease Center

Heart Disease Treatment

Heart disease treatment
Although there are no cures for the most common causes of heart disease and heart failure, three common treatment options can help most people successfully manage and live with those conditions. Treatments for heart disease can include lifestyle changes, medications, and special surgical procedures. A doctor will often prescribe a combination of two and sometimes all three options to assist patients prevent heart failure as well as recover from heart disease. The goals of these treatments are to:

  1. control or reduce heart disease risk factors
  2. lower the risk for blood clots, which can cause a heart attack
  3. reduce cardiac events
  4. relieve heart disease symptoms
  5. widen or bypass clogged arteries

Lifestyle
It is never too late or too early to begin improving heart health. Most risk factors can be controlled, while others cannot. By minimizing or eliminating risk factors that you can change and by properly managing those that you cannot control, you may greatly reduce your risk of heart disease.

Most doctors strongly recommend modifying or changing various lifestyle activities and behaviors. These modifications can result in a healthy body weight, lowered blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and a stronger heart.  Generally, lifestyle changes include:

  • alcohol consumption decrease
  • caffeine intake reduction
  • diet modification
  • increase in exercise
  • smoking cessation
  • sodium intake reduction

Medications
There are many drugs that can be prescribed to treat the variety of causes of heart disease. Most people recovering from heart failure take a combination of medications in varying dosages to manage their condition. Some of the medications that may be prescribed include:

  • aspirin
  • beta blockers
  • blood cholesterol-lowering agents
  • digitalis
  • diuretics
  • nitrates (including nitroglycerine)
  • thrombolytic agents (e.g. warfarin)

Surgery
Surgery for heart disease is generally seen as the least common treatment for heart failure. Surgery is recommended in cases where a correctable problem exists, such as a blocked valve or clogged artery. Some of the more common surgical treatments for heart disease and heart failure include:

Angioplasty - A method of reopening blood vessels that have become blocked or narrowed. Surgeons insert a catheter with a very small uninflated balloon on its end into the blood vessel. When the balloon is at the site of the blockage, it is inflated to widen the artery and then removed.

Bypass surgery - This surgery reroutes blood around a blocked segment of an artery. Surgeons remove a portion of a healthy blood vessel, often form the patient's leg or chest wall and then graft the healthy tissue before and after the blockage. This results in blood being routed/directed around the obstruction.

Defibrillator implant - Patients with severely irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia or dysrhythmia) may have a defibrillator device implanted in their chest. Defibrillators deliver electrical impulses that counter and correct abnormal heart rhythms.

Heart transplant - When severe heart failure or disease cannot be treated by medication or less invasive surgical procedures, a heart transplant is recommended. Heart transplants involve removing a healthy heart from a donor and implanting it in a patient with a failing heart. Finding a suitable donor, unfortunately, can take months or even years but heart transplants have a very high success rate

Pacemakers - A pacemaker can be surgically implanted to regulate the heart's rhythm by sending electrical impulses required for the heart to beat.

Valve replacement - If a defective or diseased valve is preventing the heart from functioning correctly, surgeons may replace it with a mechanical valve. The valve is usually constructed from human tissue, or may a valve from a compatible donor

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