If you have coronary artery disease (CAD), you should regard its treatment a little like fighting a war: It’s a long-term struggle that has to be fought on many different fronts, and if you let your guard down you may pay a high price. So, if you have been diagnosed with CAD, you and your doctor have a lot to prepare for, and a lot of strategic decisions to make.
This article outlines the things you need to consider as you and your doctor decide on the right approach to treating your heart disease.
- What should you do to prevent cardiac ischemia and angina?
- What should you do to prevent a heart attack and other cardiac emergencies?
- What should you do to slow or stop the worsening of your CAD?
Your treatment program is incomplete unless you address all three of these critical questions.
1) How Can you Reduce Your Risk of Cardiac Ischemia and Angina?
CAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a disease that causes plaques to form in the walls of your coronary arteries. Those plaques can eventually produce complete blockage of the arteries, which leads to a myocardial infarction(heart attack).
But long before that happens, partial blockages commonly develop in the coronary arteries.
This is important to your health, because partial blockages of the coronary arteries can limit the flow of blood to your heart muscle. So, while your heart muscle may be getting all the blood it needs while you are relaxed and at rest, these partial blockages can prevent your heart muscle from receiving an adequate amount of oxygen when you are exercising or under stress.
There are two general treatment options for preventing ischemia and stable angina in patients who have CAD.
- The first approach, and the one we tend to hear more about, is to use so-called “invasive therapy” — that is, to use either bypass surgery or angioplasty and stenting to relieve specific blockages within the coronary arteries.
- The second approach is to use drug therapy and other forms of non-surgical, non-catheter-based treatment.
Both approaches can be very effective, and each approach carries its own advantages or disadvantages.
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