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  • Treatment & Prevention

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    Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Options for Treatment

    For many people, keeping your heart and arteries as healthy as possible is a two-part process involving prevention and treatment. Whether you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or wish to minimize your risk factors, your doctors and other healthcare providers can work with you to identify the best choices for you among a range of treatment and prevention options. 


    You may think of prevention as doing everything you can to avoid getting cardiovascular disease in the first place. That’s one form of prevention, but there is also another form of prevention aimed at controlling the cardiovascular disease. Essentially, there are two types of prevention:

    • Primary prevention, where the goal is to stop or slow cardiovascular disease   before an event such as a heart attack or stroke; and 
    • Secondary prevention, where the goal is to prevent a repeat event in a patient who has already had a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problem. 

    Preventing an initial or repeat cardiovascular event is a team effort among you, your physician, and other medical professionals. Lifestyle changes, such as incorporating physical activity and eating a heart-healthy diet, are central to prevention. Additionally, you may be prescribed medications to prevent a heart attack or stroke. And you will certainly need to take medications if you have already had a heart attack or stroke. 

    Options for Treatment 

    If your condition, symptoms, medical and family health history, and test results indicate you already have cardiovascular disease, your healthcare providers may recommend a range of treatment options:

    • Lifestyle changes: Heart-healthy changes to your diet, a personalized strategy for getting physically active, or a plan for giving up smoking and other forms of tobacco can all contribute to cardiovascular health.
    • Medical therapy: Tremendous progress has been made with new medications that reverse, stabilize, or slow the progress of some forms of cardiovascular disease. 
    • Interventions: In recent years, physicians have developed and perfected a number of minimally invasive procedures that save lives and provide relief for symptoms of cardiovascular disease. For example, angioplasty and stenting can now be used to treat blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart, brain, legs, and kidneys.   
    • Surgery: There are many surgical approaches to treating cardiovascular conditions. You may be most familiar with cardiac bypass graft surgery

    The Spectrum of Care and How Your Healthcare Providers Make Treatment Recommendations

    Treatment and prevention are both part of what is called the spectrum of care. What this means is that the severity of your condition determines which treatment or prevention options will be most effective for you: lifestyle changes, medical therapy, interventions, or surgery.

    You can think of these treatment options as building on one another. For example,

    • If you have only risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your healthcare providers may recommend managing them through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.
    • If you have risk factors and early signs of cardiovascular disease, you may need a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.
    • If you have already had a heart attack or stroke, you might need a revascularization procedure to restore blood flow through the blood vessel, followed by ongoing medication and lifestyle changes. 

    Your doctor and other healthcare providers will work with you to determine where you fall within this spectrum of care. Delivering the best cardiovascular care for each individual patient requires your healthcare team to apply both science and art - combining research-based guidelines with experience in treating patients, each with unique circumstances. The goal is always to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. You can help your healthcare providers by being informed, asking questions, and answering their questions as fully as possible.

  • More About the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Options for Treatment

    Access to Care

    Some of the patients who are most in need of cardiovascular screening and treatment have the greatest difficulty accessing quality care. Healthcare professionals are working to identify and resolve access issues based on race, gender, and socioeconomic status.

    Angioplasty & Stents

    Angioplasty is a procedure designed to restore normal blood flow through clogged or blocked arteries, which can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other serious cardiovascular problems. Stents are tiny medical devices that prop arteries open to keep them from collapsing after angioplasty. Together, they are the standard of care to treat a heart attack in progress and can be used to treat blockages in arteries leading to the brain, kidneys, legs or arms.

    Cardiac Rehabilitation

    Cardiac rehabilitation programs help participants resume a healthy lifestyle after a cardiac event and include monitored exercise, education and counseling about cardiac risk factors, and psychosocial support. Studies have shown that participants who complete cardiac rehab programs have better odds of a longer life than those who don’t complete a program.

    Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery

    Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is a type of open-heart surgery used to treat one or more dangerous blockages in the heart arteries.

    Healthy Living

    Did you know that how you live may play a part in how long you will live? This is great news - you have some control over your own health and well-being. You may already have cardiovascular disease, but it's never too late to make changes in your lifestyle that will help your heart and arteries. This comprehensive section on nutrition, physical activity, stress management, smoking cessation, and more can help you adopt heart-healthy lifestyle changes.

    Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treatment

    Treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) aims to: • improve symptoms and quality of life, • prevent sudden cardiac death, and • due to the genetic nature of the disease, inform all families members about HCM.

    Pediatric Heart Treatments

    If your child has been diagnosed with congenital heart disease - a heart defect present at birth - your child’s care team will evaluate a range of treatment options. The same holds true for children who acquire heart disease after birth and for adult survivors of congenital heart disease. Treatment options vary greatly depending on the type and severity of the heart defect.

    Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment

    Treatment options are available to help prevent or slow the development of blockages to the legs and kidneys caused by atherosclerosis - the build-up of a fatty substance called plaque in the arteries. Successful treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD) can make a significant difference in your life.

    Risk Factor Modification

    Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death among Americans. But there are steps you can take to reduce your odds of having a heart attack or stroke, suffering from angina (chest pain), or developing blockages in the arteries that supply blood to your limbs (peripheral artery disease) or kidneys (renal artery disease).

    Stroke Treatment

    Improvements in the treatment of heart attack have dramatically reduced the number of deaths and disabilities caused by heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. Now, new treatments are available that may also revolutionize stroke care. The medical community is taking aim at improving the outcomes for stroke, currently the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disabilities in the United States.

    Treatment and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease if You Have Diabetes

    Many people with diabetes develop at least mild cardiovascular disease. Therefore, treatment consists of a strong program for preventing further damage to the heart and blood vessels, coupled with specific therapies for problems that already exist.

    Who Should Be Treated with Coronary Bypass Surgery?

    Treatment for coronary artery disease - the disease process that causes blockages in your heart arteries - is not one-size-fits-all. Your healthcare team will evaluate the extent and location of blockages in your heart arteries, as well as your overall health, before making recommendations about the best heart disease treatment for you.

    Your Guide to New Treatments and Technologies

    Now more than ever, people with cardiovascular disease can be assured there are effective medications, procedures, and other treatments available to treat their conditions. As knowledge of cardiovascular disease has expanded, so has the ability to treat the disease. Yet the medical community is always working toward new innovations to improve patient care, especially considering cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 80 million Americans estimated to have a form of the disease.