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Heart Disease Health Center

Treatment & Care

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Treatments for heart disease range from low-tech to high-tech. Read about them here. You'll also find advice for caregivers -- including tips for caregiver care.

Treatment

CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation -- CPR -- is one link in what the American Heart Association calls the "chain of survival." Learn CPR for a loved one.

Medical care is essential once heart disease is diagnosed, with the goals of stabilizing the condition immediately, controlling symptoms over the long term, and providing a cure when possible.

Surgeries

Get information about heart stents, why they’re used, and what types are available.

Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to open blocked heart arteries. Stent placement is another option that can be done during angioplasty.

Heart bypass surgery can be used to treat heart disease when your coronary arteries are blocked. Your doctor may treat the problem by giving the blood a new pathway to the heart.

When treatment for heart valve disease includes surgery, it can be performed by traditional surgery or minimally invasive balloon valvuloplasty.

For many people with heart disease, drugs alone will not convert an arrhythmia to a normal heart rhythm. For these people, a procedure called cardioversion or electrical cardioversion may be necessary.

EECP can help stimulate blood vessels to develop small branches, creating a natural bypass around narrowed or blocked arteries that cause the chest pain.

Ablation is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. The type of arrhythmia and the presence of other heart disease will determine whether ablation can be performed surgically or non-surgically.

A pacemaker is a small device that sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and rhythm. A pacemaker may also be used to treat fainting spells (syncope), congestive heart failure, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Treatment for abnormal heart rhythms is possible with an ICD, or implantable cardioverter defibrillator.

A lead extraction is the removal of one or more leads from inside the heart. Leads that are placed outside the heart during open heart surgery cannot be removed during this type of procedure.

The left ventricular assist device, LVAD or VAD, is a kind of mechanical heart. It's placed inside a person's chest, where it helps the heart pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

A heart transplant is the replacement of a person's diseased heart with a healthy donor's heart. The donor is a person who has died and whose family has agreed to donate their loved one's organs.

Medications

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are heart medications that widen or dilate your blood vessels to improve the amount of blood your heart pumps and lower blood pressure.

These heart drugs decrease certain chemicals that narrow the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily through your body. They also decrease certain chemicals that cause salt and fluid build-up in the body.

Antiarrhythmia drugs are used to treat abnormal heart rhythms resulting from irregular electrical activity of the heart.

Antiplatelet drugs are used to treat heart disease. They are a group of powerful medications that prevent the formation of blood clots.

For more than 100 years, aspirin has been used as a pain reliever. Since the 1970s, aspirin has also been used to prevent and manage heart disease and stroke.

Beta-blockers are one of the most widely prescribed class of drugs to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and are a mainstay treatment of congestive heart failure.

Calcium channel blockers are heart disease drugs that relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while also reducing the heart's workload.

Clot buster drugs, or thrombolytic therapy, are a type of heart medication given in the hospital through the veins (intravenous) to break up blood clots.

If you have heart disease, Digoxin is a medication that helps an injured or weakened heart work more efficiently to send blood through the body.

iuretics, commonly known as "water pills," help your body get rid of unneeded water and salt through the urine. Getting rid of excess fluid makes it easier for your heart to pump and controls blood pressure.

Nitrates are vasodilators that are used to treat angina in people with coronary artery disease or chest pain caused by blocked blood vessels of the heart.

Warfarin, which goes by the brand name Coumadin, is an anticoagulant medication. This means that it helps prevent clots from forming in the blood. Blood thinners are used to treat some types of heart disease.

Care

Is a plant-based diet good for your heart? More research needs to be done, but early studies suggest it may have a number of benefits.

After you or someone you love returns home after heart surgery, these are some of the things you should know.

Caregivers should be mindful of the psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual aspects of health and illness, as well as the effects of these factors on themselves and their loved ones.

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