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What Is the Treatment for Ischemic Heart Disease?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Treatment for ischemic heart disease may include a wide range of options, including medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes. Most cases of ischemic heart disease are the result of plaque buildup in the arteries, so treatment also usually includes steps to lower cholesterol and other artery-clogging factors. Ongoing monitoring and treatment are generally needed, especially in patients have had a heart attack previously.

Choosing a treatment for ischemic heart disease will depend on the severity of each patient’s condition. Those with mild cases may be given prescription medication to thin the blood so that it flows more easily through thickened arteries. Aspirin may also be used for this purpose. In combination with these therapies, patients are typically encouraged to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol to prevent further clogging.

Those who have had a heart attack or who are at an increased risk of heart attack due to severely clogged arteries may receive more aggressive treatment for ischemic heart disease. This can include surgeries that widen the arteries using balloons or other devices so that blood doesn’t become clogged. Occasionally, bypass surgery may be needed.

Some patients with progressed forms of the condition may require a pacemaker to regulate the heart’s rhythm combined with other therapies. Sometimes medication and surgery are used in conjunction with one another, along with the pacemaker. Each patient’s condition will dictate the exact method of therapies used.

Patients are also encouraged to make dietary changes in treatment for ischemic heart disease. This can include eating a low-fat diet, lowering bad cholesterol, and raising good cholesterol. They may also be told to exercise daily in order to lower weight and improve cardiovascular health in general. Patients should always check with a doctor before engaging in a new diet and exercise program.

In some very severe cases, treatment for ischemic heart disease may require a heart transplant. This is usually only required once a heart attack or other damage has been done to the heart which cannot be otherwise repaired. Most times this is not used in the treatment for ischemic heart disease because this syndrome affects the arteries rather than the heart directly, although it can lead to serious heart complication in some patients.

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