How is heart disease treated?

How is heart disease treated?

Treatment depends on the kind of heart disease you have and the nature of its origins.

Following a heart attack, or if a blocked artery is found, the goal of treatment is to minimize damage and restore the free flow of blood to your heart. Treatment may include:

  • Monitoring of your heart and vital signs.
  • Oxygen therapy to bring oxygen to your damaged heart.
  • Heart medication to:

    • Help the blood flow easier
    • Prevent blood from clotting
    • Prevent irregular heartbeats
    • Slow down the heart
    • Lower blood pressure
  • Cholesterol medicine to help stabilize the arteries.
  • Coronary angioplasty to create a larger opening in your artery to increase blood flow.
  • Bypass surgery -- an operation that takes veins or arteries from another part of your body and transplants them into your heart to replace the damaged ones.

Other heart diseases are treated in various ways including medicines and surgery.

Following these immediate treatments, long term treatments commonly include medicines to reduce blood clotting, reduce blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, or slow the heart down. Treatment of controllable risk factors is very important in minimizing future problems.

Patients with heart disease often benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation program, which can improve your heart’s function, reduce your symptoms, and enhance your sense of well-being.

Cardiac rehabilitation may include the following activities:

  • An exercise program to build fitness and strengthen your heart.
  • Educational classes to help change or adjust your lifestyle and habits, such as:

    • Stop smoking classes
    • Healthy eating classes
  • Stress management techniques and ways to reduce anxiety.
  • Counseling and educating you about your specific heart disease and how to live healthy.
  • Help in preparing you to return to work, especially the physical and psychological demands of the job.

Be sure to ask your doctor to explain your treatment in detail so you can take an active role in returning to health.

To learn more:

CardiologyChannel. Heart Attack-Treatment
CardiologyChannel. Heart Attack-Treatment discusses medical care for the first days following a heart attack as well as long-term therapy. Other topics about heart attack and heart conditions are listed on the menu on the left side of the window.
Prevention and Treatment of Heart Attack
(American Heart Association)
This site explains what can be done to prevent and treat a heart attack.
Cardiac Medications
(American Heart Association)
Offers information on drugs that treat heart disease.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials allow scientists and doctors to test new ways to treat illnesses. They are also an option for people to try something new at less cost. The following links may help you decide if you want to be in a clinical trial.
Learn About Clinical Studies
(National Library of Medicine)
Explains clinical trials in a question and answer format. Presents lots of information that patients and their families will want to know if they are thinking about enrolling in a clinical trial. A list of questions to ask your doctor or the people doing the study is very helpful.
(National Institues of Health)
This site allows individuals to search for clinical studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and other Federal and non-Federal organizations. It contains over 5,000 clinical trials. For a basic understanding of clinical trials, look under Resource Information in the center of the page, then select Understanding Clinical Trials.
Selected NHLBI Clinical Trials Across the U.S.
(National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)
Clinical trials sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health can be found at this site. You can search for trials by disease or condition, age group, and stage of trial. If you want to consider being in a clinical trial, this is a good site to visit with your doctor or health care professional to find out if trials are available.

next » How can I prevent heart disease?

Written by: Doris Wisher, M.L.S.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Thursday January 08, 2015 7:51 PM