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 with or without stenting and bypass surgery.

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


Palliative care

Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have a serious illness. It's different from care to cure your illness. Its goal is to improve your quality of life-not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit.

You can have this care along with treatment to cure your illness. You can also have it if treatment to cure your illness no longer seems like a good choice.

Palliative care providers will work to help control pain or side effects. They may help you decide what treatment you want or don't want. And they can help your loved ones understand how to support you.

If you're interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor.

For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.

End-of-life care

If your heart disease is advanced, it may shorten your life. So you need to decide what kind of care you want at the end of your life.

It can be hard to have talks with your doctor and family about the end of your life. But making these decisions now may bring you and your family peace of mind. Your family won't have to wonder what you want. And you can spend your time focusing on your relationships.

You will need to decide if you want life-support measures if your health gets very bad. An advance directive is a legal document that tells doctors how to care for you at the end of your life. You also can say where you want to have care. And you can name someone who can make sure your wishes are followed.

For more information, see the topic Care at the End of Life.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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