New and improved drug therapies and surgical interventions, in combination with healthy lifestyle choices, mean that women with heart disease can live long and active lives.
If you have heart disease, you will likely be prescribed one or more medications. They are used to treat high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure or heart disease. Learn about some of the most common drugs and their uses. As with all medications, be sure to take them as directed and let your health care team know if you experience bothersome side effects.
If you have been diagnosed with advanced heart disease, you may need a procedure to open an artery to improve blood flow. Two common procedures are coronary angioplasty (balloon angioplasty) and coronary artery bypass graft (bypass surgery):
• Coronary angioplasty (balloon angioplasty) widens narrowed arteries when a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded through the arm or groin artery to the blocked artery in the heart. The balloon is inflated to unclog the artery, then deflated and removed. In the majority of cases your doctor is likely to insert a stent—a tiny metal scaffold—to prop the artery open so it doesn’t close again. Newer stents called drug-eluting stents are coated with medication that is slowly released into the coronary artery to keep plaque from reforming. Nearly 90 percent of coronary stent procedures now use this technology.
• Coronary artery bypass graft (bypass surgery) uses blood vessels often taken from the leg or chest to go around or "bypass” clogged coronary arteries so blood can flow through the new vessels to the heart. This is a more invasive procedure during which the chest is opened and the heart is temporarily stopped during the operation.
If you have survived a heart attack or undergone a heart procedure, you will likely be referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program, designed to help patients recover and gain back physical strength and stamina. These programs typically include:
• Exercise training
• Information on diet and nutrition and a roadmap to managing your risk factors
• Counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life
• Support to cope with life adjustments that follow heart attack or surgery
The combination of treatments recommended by your heart team will depend on a number of factors, including:
• Age and lifestyle
• Type and severity of heart disease
• Co-existing health concerns, such as diabetes or high blood pressure