Coronary Artery Disease

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Coronary artery disease treatment

Coronary artery disease can be hereditary—it may be inherited from a family member. If this is the case, the disease is often treated preventively with healthy lifestyle choices and consistent monitoring of health indicators like blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If you do have coronary artery disease, the same approaches used to prevent the disease are often used to treat it. If healthy lifestyle choices and treatment of pre-existing conditions or factors alone are not sufficient, more drastic measures—such as surgery or other medical procedures—may be necessary.

Coronary artery disease prevention

There are a number of ways in which you can help prevent developing coronary artery disease, including:

  • Quitting smoking: According to the American College of Cardiology25, your risk for coronary artery disease drops relatively soon after you quit smoking.
  • Controlling your blood pressure: It’s important to ask your healthcare provider for a blood pressure measurement at least every two years. He or she may recommend more frequent measurements, however, especially if your blood pressure is higher than normal or if you have a family history of heart disease.
  • Checking your cholesterol: Regular cholesterol testing26 can help determine your risk of plaque buildup in your arteries that can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries. Cholesterol tests are important tools for determining your risk for CAD, as high cholesterol levels are often a significant risk factor for the disease.
  • Managing diabetes: If you have diabetes, careful blood sugar management can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Getting enough exercise: Regular exercise helps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which are all risk factors for coronary artery disease.
  • Participating in cardiac rehabilitation: If you have undergone surgery for CAD, your healthcare provider or cardiac specialist may recommend participating in cardiac rehabilitation—a program of education, counseling, and exercise training designed to help improve your health.
  • Eating a healthy diet: A heart-healthy diet that emphasizes plant-based foods (such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts) and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium can help you control your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Avoiding saturated fat and trans fat, excess salt, and excess sugar are also healthy diet choices.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight increases your risk of coronary artery disease. Losing even just a small percentage of your current weight can help reduce the risk factors for coronary artery disease.
  • Managing stress: Reducing stress as much as possible can help prevent your risk for developing coronary artery disease. You can practice a number of healthy techniques for managing stress, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing.

The same lifestyle habits that can help prevent coronary artery disease are often those that are recommended to help treat it.

If you have coronary artery disease, or are at risk of developing the disease due to genetic factors or pre-existing conditions, your healthcare provider may suggest the following steps to help lower your risk for heart attack or worsening heart disease:

  • Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier (lower sodium, lower fat) diet, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking
  • Taking medications to treat the risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or an irregular heartbeat
  • Surgical procedures to help restore blood flow to the heart

Your healthcare provider may prescribe the following medication to help manage CAD.

May be prescribed

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Surgery for coronary artery disease

In some cases, medical procedures are required to treat coronary artery disease. Some procedures that may be used to treat CAD include:

  • Angioplasty/stent placement (percutaneous coronary revascularization27: In this procedure, your healthcare provider inserts a long, thin tube (called a catheter) into the narrowed part of your artery. A wire with a deflated balloon is passed through the catheter to the narrowed area. The balloon is then inflated, compressing the deposits against your artery walls.

    A stent is often left in the artery in order to help keep the artery open. Most stents also slowly release medication to help keep the arteries open.

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery28: In this procedure, a surgeon creates a graft to bypass blocked arteries using a vessel taken from another part of the body. This allows blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed coronary artery.

Because this requires open-heart surgery, it’s most often used for cases of multiple narrowed coronary arteries.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.