Team AckoJun 14, 2023
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is an umbrella term for a range of conditions concerning the heart, from congenital heart defects to coronary artery disease. As the leading cause of death worldwide, heart disease is an urgent public health concern. Fortunately, with advances in medicine and technology, heart disease can be treated and managed, allowing for an improved quality of life.
Treatments for heart disease depend on the underlying cause, though medications are generally the first-line defense. Used to reduce risk factors or improve symptoms, medications have proven highly effective. They can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce clotting and inflammation, slow the heart rate, regulate the heartbeat, and improve oxygen delivery. Medications are available as pills, tablets, liquids, and injections.
Depending on the type and severity of heart disease, different types of medications may be prescribed by a doctor. While the list is exhaustive and includes a wide variety of drugs, some of the most common types of medications for heart disease are:
Statins are the most common type of cholesterol-lowering drugs, and they work by blocking an enzyme in the liver responsible for producing cholesterol. Many people on statins also need to take a medicine known as a bile acid sequestrant to further lower their cholesterol levels. Other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as fibrates and niacin, are also available.
These drugs are used to reduce blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. Common types of these medications include ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.
Commonly known as blood thinners, anti-clotting drugs reduce the risk of blood clots forming within the heart and blood vessels. They achieve this by inhibiting factors in the blood responsible for clottings, such as platelets and proteins.
These drugs are designed to prevent or reduce abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. Symptoms typically include palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, or fainting.
Cardiac glycosides primarily act to improve the pumping ability of the heart. They are usually prescribed to those with congestive heart failure or arrhythmias.
In addition to medications, there are other treatments that may be used to manage and reduce the risk of heart disease. These treatments include lifestyle and dietary measures, such as quitting smoking, limiting consumption of alcohol and processed foods, exercising regularly, and reducing stress levels.
Surgery is also an option for certain types of heart disease and usually forms part of a multi-pronged approach. The most common type of surgery for heart disease is coronary artery bypass grafting, in which a healthy artery or vein is used to “bypass” an artery narrowed or blocked with plaque buildup. Other surgeries may be used to repair a damaged or malfunctioning heart valve.
Heart disease is a public health concern, but treatment options are available to manage symptoms and reduce risk factors. While medication is the go-to for treating heart disease, lifestyle, and dietary measures shouldn’t be forgotten. For certain types of heart disease, surgery may be required for the best possible outcome. With proper care and treatment, many people with heart disease can live a full and active life.
The most common types of medications used to treat heart disease include cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure medications, anti-clotting drugs, anti-arrhythmic drugs, and cardiac glycosides.
In addition to medications, lifestyle, and dietary measures, such as eating healthy and exercising regularly, can be used to reduce the risk of heart disease. Surgery is also an option for certain types of heart disease.
The best way to prevent heart disease is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, managing stress levels, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Seeing a doctor for regular check-ups can also help identify any risk factors and catch heart disease before symptoms appear.
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