Coronary Artery Disease - Overview
Changing old habits may not be easy, but it is very
important to help you live a healthier and longer life. Having a plan can help.
Start with small steps. For example, commit to eating five servings of fruits
and vegetables a day. Instead of having dessert, take a short walk. When you
feel stressed, stop and take some deep breaths.
Medicines may be needed in addition to lifestyle changes.
Medicines that are often prescribed for people with coronary artery disease
- Statins to help lower cholesterol.
- Beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure.
- Aspirin or other medicines to reduce the risk of blood
- Nitrates to relieve chest pain.
Procedures may be done to improve
blood flow to the heart.
- Angioplasty is used to open blocked arteries. It isn't
major surgery. During angioplasty, the doctor guides a thin tube (called a
catheter) into the narrowed artery and inflates a small balloon. This widens
the artery to help restore blood flow. Often a small wire-mesh tube called a
stent is placed to keep the artery open. See a picture
of angioplasty with stent placement . The doctor may use a
stent that is coated with medicine, called a drug-eluting stent. When the stent
is in place, it slowly releases a medicine that prevents the growth of new
tissue. This helps keep the artery open.
- Bypass surgery, which is major surgery, may be used
if arteries are severely narrowed or blocked. It uses healthy blood vessels to
create detours around the narrowed or blocked arteries.
What else can you do?
To stay as healthy as
possible, it is important to:
- See your doctor for regular follow-up appointments. This lets
your doctor keep track of your risk factors and adjust your treatment as
- Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Do not stop or
change medicines without talking to your doctor.
- Keep nitroglycerin with you at all times, if your doctor
prescribed it for chest pain.
- Tell your doctor about any chest pain you have had, even if it
- Get the support you need to succeed in making lifestyle
changes. Ask family or friends to share a healthy meal or join a stop-smoking
program with you. Or ask your doctor about a
cardiac rehab program. In cardiac rehab, a team of
health professionals provides education and support to help you make new,