Treatments for Heart Disease

Your doctor is not the only health care provider that can help you follow the ABCS.

Nurses, pharmacists, community health workers, health coaches, and other providers can work with you and your doctor to help you achieve your health goals. Donít be afraid to ask questions like these:

  • What is my risk for heart disease? Should I take an aspirin every day to reduce my risk?
  • What is my blood pressure? What does it mean for me, and what should I do about it?
  • What kinds of support are available to help me quit smoking?

Source: CDC DHDSP1

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Back to: « Heart Disease

Treatments for Heart Disease

Coronary angioplasty: A coronary angioplasty is a medical procedure used in the treatment of heart disease.

A thin tube is threaded into the coronary arteries via a blood vessel in the groin, in a similar procedure to cardiac catheterisation. A small balloon attached to the end of the tube is inflated, which widens the blocked portion of the artery and allows increased blood flow to the affected part of the heart muscle. Stents (tubular grids) may be inserted to hold open the affected part of the artery.

Source: Queensland Health2

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Coronary Artery Bypass: A heart bypass operation is performed to 'bypass' the narrowed segment, creating a new channel for the blood to supply the heart's surface. This is usually done by inserting a section of the patient's saphenous vein, which is taken from the thigh or lower leg.

Other names for this operation include coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) and coronary revascularisation. Possible complications include infection and haemorrhage.

Source: Queensland Health3

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Dietician: Dietitians are allied health professionals who use their knowledge of human nutrition to help people manage their health. They provide support and services to both inpatients and outpatients, and can be helpful to people who:

On your first visit, the dietitian will:

  • discuss the reason for your visit and work with you to plan goals and strategies for improving your health
  • take some measurements (including height, weight and waist circumference)
  • ask questions about your medical, social and diet history
  • refer you to additional health services if necessary
  • plan any follow-up appointments.

At follow-up appointments, they may take your measurements again and ask questions to see how much progress you have made, and recommend some new strategies to help you reach your goals.

Source: Queensland Government4

Lifestyle Changes for Heart Disease

Exercise: Fitting exercise and physical activity into your day can enhance your life in so many ways. Regular physical activity can improve your balance and boost or maintain your strength and fitness. It may also improve your mood and help you manage or lessen the impact of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and depression.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)5

Management of Heart Disease

But you can reduce your risk and improve your heart health by following the ABCS:

  • A - Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.
  • B - Control your blood pressure.
  • C - Manage your cholesterol.
  • S - Don't smoke.

A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.

Ask your health care provider if aspirin can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you have a family medical history of heart disease or stroke.

B: Control your blood pressure.

Blood pressure measures the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If your blood pressure stays high, you may suffer from high blood pressure, also called hypertension. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke more than any other risk factor. African Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop the condition earlier in life. To keep your blood pressure under control, find out what your blood pressure numbers are, and ask your health care provider what those numbers mean for your health. If you have high blood pressure, work with your health care provider to lower it.

C: Manage your cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and is found in certain foods. Your body needs cholesterol, but when you have too much it can build up in your arteries and cause heart disease. There are different types of cholesterol. One type is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol that can protect you from heart disease. Another type is low-density-lipoprotein (LDL), known as bad cholesterol that can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your health care provider about cholesterol and how to lower your bad cholesterol if itís too high.

S: Don't smoke.

About 1 of 5 African American adults smokes cigarettes. If you smoke, quit. Talk with your health care provider about ways to help you stick with your decision. Itís never too late to quit smoking. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW today or visit

Source: CDC DHDSP6

Alternative Treatments for Heart Disease

Music Therapy: Other research suggests that music can benefit heart disease patients by reducing their blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)7

Rehabilitation: Heart Disease

Cardiac Rehabilitation Facts

  • All of these persons with heart disease could benefit from cardiac rehabilitation (rehab).[1] The purpose of cardiac rehab is to modify a person's coronary risk factors and to reduce mortality, morbidity, and functional disability due to cardiovascular illness.[2-4]
  • In 2001, 19 states and the District of Columbia included questions in the state-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey regarding receipt of cardiac rehab services following a heart attack.[5] The findings indicated that less than a third of heart disease patients had participated in cardiac rehab even though most might have benefited from these services.
  • Other studies suggest that women who have suffered a recent heart attack or had bypass surgery are less likely to be referred to or participate in a cardiac rehab program.[6,7] Patients aged 70 years or older are much less likely to participate in cardiac rehab in comparison to younger patients.
  • Recent research demonstrates that physician referral is the most powerful predictor for cardiac rehab enrollment.7,8 Clinical practice guidelines for cardiac rehab were released and widely disseminated to health professionals in 1995 by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.2
  • Comprehensive cardiac rehab has been shown to reduce re-hospitalization rates, reduce recurrent sudden cardiac death, lessen the need for cardiac medications, and increase the rate of persons returning to work.
  • Including cardiac rehab in intervention plans for patients with heart disease remains a key strategy for reducing further disability and death.

Source: CDC DHDSP8

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State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Programs Take Action

Prevention through medical and public health education is vital for improved physician referrals and patient enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation. Examples of activities to implement in health care settings and the community include the following:

  • Promoting health care environments that improve quality of care by increasing adherence to guidelines for heart attack survivors, persons with stable angina, and persons with coronary artery disease.
  • Potential Partners: primary care associations, federally-qualified health centers, managed care organizations, Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, American Heart Association (AHA), rehabilitation, medical associations, nursing associations, and healthcare provider associations.
  • Promoting policies for diagnostic evaluation to refer eligible patients to cardiac rehabilitation and appropriate follow-up.
  • Potential Partners: hospitals, managed care organizations, federally-qualified health centers, medical associations, nursing associations, healthcare provider associations, and AHA affiliate.
  • Strengthening secondary prevention through increased awareness and education about the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation that promote heart healthy lifestyles.
  • Potential Partners: AHA affiliate, faith- and community-based organizations, local minority nursing association, and local health departments.
  • Advocating for health care coverage that includes cardiac rehabilitation services for persons that have coronary artery disease or have had a previous heart attack.
  • Potential Partners: AHA affiliate, business and human resource management, employee associations, unions, third-party payers, health care providers, local policymakers.
  • Advocating for equality in access to rehabilitation services for all persons, including women and members of diverse populations.
  • Potential Partners: primary care associations, federally-qualified health centers, managed care organizations, Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, American Heart Association (AHA), rehabilitation and medical associations.

Source: CDC DHDSP9

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Goals of Cardiac Rehabilitation[6]

  • Improve functional capacity and quality of life.
  • Reduce risk of sudden death and subsequent heart attack.
  • Ease angina pectoris symptoms.
  • Prevent progression of underlying disease.

Source: CDC DHDSP10

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  1. Source: CDC DHDSP: dhdsp/ data_statistics/ fact_sheets/ fs_aa.htm
  2. Source: Queensland Health: HealthCondition/ condition/ 13/ 111/ 274/ coronary-angioplasty
  3. Source: Queensland Health: HealthCondition/ condition/ 13/ 111/ 275/ coronary-artery-bypass
  4. Source: Queensland Government: health/ staying-healthy/ diet-nutrition/ dietitians
  5. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): issue/ dec2011/ capsule1
  6. Source: CDC DHDSP: dhdsp/ data_statistics/ fact_sheets/ fs_aa.htm
  7. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): 2010/ January/ feature1.htm
  8. Source: CDC DHDSP: dhdsp/ data_statistics/ fact_sheets/ fs_state_cardiacrehab.htm
  9. ibid.
  10. ibid.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.