TREATING HEART DISEASE
Heart disease can be present at birth, develop gradually over many years, or happen suddenly and unexpectedly. For most types of heart disease, there are several treatment options available. Treatment can broadly be classified into medicines, devices and surgical procedures, and lifestyle changes. Often different types of treatments are combined.
Many medications are used to treat and prevent heart disease. Here are some examples:
- Blood pressure medications improve blood pressure to avoid heart diseases, kidney disease and strokes
- Cholesterol medications reduce atherosclerosis to prevent coronary heart disease
- Clot busting medications are used to dissolve blood clots than block arteries or veins
- Medications can improve blood flow to the heart or other organs
- Medications can improve the rhythm and strength with which the heart contracts
- Medications can help the kidneys to remove extra fluid build-up from the body
- Anticoagulant and antiplatelet medication can prevent blood clots from forming
You can read more about common heart medication by downloading this information booklet
from the British Heart Foundation.
Discuss any concerns about heart medication with your doctor or pharmacist. Do not stop any prescription medication unless instructed to do so. Remember that medication only works when you take it!
Devices or surgery
Heart diseases sometimes needs to be treated by surgery or insertion of devices. Some common examples include:
Watch a visual explanation of common heart disease treatments from the American Heart Association
- Angioplasty and stents: a small balloon is inserted into an artery and inflated to widen a narrowed or blocked artery. Often a little tube called a stent is inserted to keep the blood vessel from narrowing again.
- Coronary bypass: This is a surgery during which a blood vessel from your leg or arm is used to bypass a narrowed section of a coronary artery. During triple bypass three new vessels are used to bypass 3 narrowed arteries.
- Heart valve surgery: When a heart valve is damaged or is not working properly, it can be repaired or replaced during surgery. In some cases, a new heart valve can also be inserted without undergoing surgery.
- Pacemaker: Certain types of abnormal heart rhythm disorders can be treated by implanting a small electrical device that regulates the hearts beating. The matchbox size device is implanted under local anaesthetic.