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Coronary Artery Disease - Treatment Overview

Treatment focuses on lowering your risk for heart attack and stroke and managing your symptoms. Lifestyle changes, medicine, and procedures are used.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are the first step for anyone with coronary artery disease. Healthy habits can slow or even stop the disease and improve the quality and length of your life. These habits include:

A cardiac rehabilitation program can help you make these changes.

It's also important to manage any health problems you have. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, be sure you're doing everything you can to keep these conditions under control.

To learn what you can do, see Living With Heart Disease.

One Man's Story:


Alan, 73

"I've had to work at keeping my weight under control, and that has really helped my cholesterol. When you have heart disease, you learn to eat better for the rest of your life. And if you don't, you're asking for trouble."—Alan

Read more about Alan and the lessons he's learned about diet and exercise.


You will probably have to take several medicines that lower your risk of a heart attack. These include:

To manage symptoms, you might take an angina medicine, such as nitroglycerin.


If your angina symptoms get worse even though you are taking medicines, you may think about having a procedure to improve blood flow to your heart. These include angioplasty slideshow.gif with or without stenting and bypass slideshow.gif surgery. They are done when the coronary arteries are severely narrowed or blocked.

Heart Disease: Should I Have Angioplasty for Stable Angina?
Heart Disease: Should I Have Bypass Surgery?

Palliative care

If your coronary artery disease gets worse, you may want to think about palliative care. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your body, but also in your mind and spirit. It may help you manage symptoms or side effects from treatment.

If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to manage your care or refer you to a doctor who specializes in this type of care.

For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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