Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease and arteriosclerotic heart disease, is caused by the prolonged restriction of oxygen to the heart muscle. The narrowing of coronary arteries is generally caused by atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque on the arterial walls. The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown, but several factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high LDL cholesterol levels can exacerbate the condition. As blood flow is reduced, chest pain, heart attacks, and shortness of breath can occur. Treatment for CHD is dependent upon the actual causes of the condition.
Upon diagnosis of CHD, doctors may recommend that the patient take medication to control cholesterol levels, blood pressure, or diabetes. These treatments attempt to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels below 100 mg/dL, blood pressure to below 120/80 mmHg, and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels to below 7 percent. Aspirin is also recommended to prevent blood clot formation, which reduces the risk of a heart attack.
Depending on the symptoms and severity, there are different medications. Statins are typically prescribed to reduce patient’s cholesterol levels, while ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics are prescribed to lower blood pressure. Nitrates can be prescribed to alleviate chest pain by dilating blood vessels, increasing the blood supply to the heart. When prescribed these medications, it is imperative to continue taking them until informed otherwise by a doctor. Ceasing to take a prescribed medication can be extremely detrimental to one’s health and can cause symptoms to get worse.
In more severe cases, doctors may consider having the patient undergo a medical procedure to fix the heart condition. In such a case, the doctor may recommend undergoing angioplasty and stent placement, a coronary artery bypass surgery, or different forms of minimally invasive heart surgery. In addition to treatment, doctors may recommend a change in lifestyle. Individuals who have experienced CHD are at a high risk of developing other cardiac conditions. Removing risk factors, such as smoking and food high in LDL cholesterol can help reduce the risk of further attacks. Daily exercise and diets low in salt can also help prevent further heart complications. For diabetics, it is important to control blood sugar levels and seek preventative care. Through proper treatment, it is possible to reduce the risk of further complications.