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Heart Disease Management

Treatment of heart disease, like coronary artery disease, is aimed at controlling symptoms and slowing or stopping the progression of disease. The method of treatment is based on many factors determined by your symptoms, a physical exam, and diagnostic testing. In many cases, if one's artery blockage is less than 70% and not severely limiting blood flow, medications may be the first line of treatment.

Take your medications

Medications may be needed to help your heart work more efficiently and receive more oxygen-rich blood. The medications you are prescribed depend on you and your specific heart problem.

It is important to know:

  • the names of your medications
  • what they are for
  • how often and at what times to take your medications

Your doctor or nurse should review your medications with you. Keep a list of your medications and bring them to each of your physician visits. If you have questions about your medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Long term medications used to treat Coronary Artery Disease

The following medications are commonly prescribed for long-term care in patients with coronary artery disease.  Your doctor will determine if they are the right medications for you.

  • Aspirin - is often used to prevent blood clots forming in the heart arteries in patients with coronary artery disease.  Aspirin has been shown to improve survival after a heart attack. 
  • Beta blockers - are a class of medications that relax the blood vessels and slow the heart rate. It thereby improves blood flow to the heart, decreases blood pressure and symptoms of angina, and has been shown to improve survival after a heart attack. 
  • Ranolazine (Ranexa) is a medication used to treat chronic angina. It works by improving blood flow to the heart and decreases the occurrence of angina attacks. It is used in combination with other medications. 
  • Ace inhibitors - are given to patients if they have heart failure, or their heart muscle is not pumping as well as it should. Ace inhibitors have been shown to improve survival after a heart attack.
  • Lipid management - is essential for all patients with coronary artery disease who have higher than normal blood lipid levels. 

Beyond Medical Management

When medications and lifestyle changes are not able to control symptoms or narrowing of the coronary artery progresses to a point that the heart muscle is at risk for damage, interventional procedures such as angioplasty and stents or surgery may be required to treat your heart disease. In either case, lifestyle modification and medications will be a part of your lifelong program of disease management.