What treatments are available for patients with coronary artery disease?

Your doctor will talk to you about the best treatment plan for you. Following your treatment plan will help reduce your risk of problems like heart attack and stroke.

++Reduce your risk factors++

The first step in treatment for coronary artery disease is reducing your risk factors. This involves making changes in your lifestyle.

  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke or use tobacco products, quit. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you stop smoking, including medications.
  • Manage health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about ways to change your diet to reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol use. Daily limits are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • Increase your activity level. Exercise helps you lose weight, improve your physical condition and relieve stress. Most people can reduce their risk of heart attack by doing 30 minutes of walking 5 times per week or walking 10,000 steps per day. Talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program.

++Learn more about heart healthy lifestyle++

Medications

You may need to take medication to lower your cholesterol level or blood pressure or as treatment for other health conditions you have. It is important to take all medications as prescribed. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about which medications you should take or how to take them.

Interventional procedures

++Interventional procedures++ are nonsurgical treatments to get rid of plaque build-up in the arteries and prevent blockages. Common procedures are balloon angioplasty (PTCA) and stenting. The procedures are done with a long, thin tube called a catheter. It is inserted into an artery through a small incision and guided to the blocked area of the artery to clear the plaque. Your doctor will give you more information if you need an interventional procedure.

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery

++Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery++ involves creating a new path for blood to flow when there is a blockage in the coronary arteries. In most cases, the surgeon removes blood vessels from the patient’s chest, arm or leg, and creates the new pathway to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Your doctor will give you more information if you need CABG surgery.

Other treatment options

If traditional treatment options are not successful, your doctor may recommend other treatment options, such as:

++Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP):++ Inflatable cuffs (like blood pressure cuffs) are used to squeeze the blood vessels in your lower body. This helps improve blood flow to the heart by helping create natural bypasses (collaterals) around blocked coronary arteries. Enhanced external counterpulsation is a possible treatment for patients with chronic stable angina who cannot have an invasive procedure or bypass surgery and do not get relief from medication.

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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