How is heart disease treated?

30 June 2015

Treatment options depend on the type, cause, symptoms and severity of the identified heart disease. Treatment can include anything from drugs to major surgery. For instance, if you have an infection in one of the heart valves, you'll probably be prescribed antibiotics. 

Generally, treatment for heart disease includes:

  • Lifestyle changes: These include eating a low-fat and low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.
  • Medication: Your doctor may prescribe medications like beta-blockers (one of the most widely prescribed class of drugs to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure, and a typical treatment for congestive heart failure).

The different types of medication

The type of medication will depend on the type of heart disease and usually include a combination of medications. These include:

  • Diuretics: These reduce fluid load and extra pressure on the heart.
  • ACE inhibitors: These widen or dilate your blood vessels to improve the amount of blood your heart pumps, and lower blood pressure.
  • Angiotension II receptor blockers: These decrease certain chemicals that narrow the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily through your body. They also decrease certain chemicals that cause salt and fluid build-up in the body.
  • Antiarrhythmics: These are used to treat abnormal heart rhythms resulting from irregular electrical activity of the heart.
  • Antiplatelet drugs: A group of powerful medications that prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Aspirin therapy: Administering aspirin prevents blood clots from forming in your arteries.
  • Calcium channel blocker drugs: These relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while reducing the heart's workload.

The different types of procedures and surgeries

Specific procedures or surgery will depend on the type of heart disease and the extent of the damage to your heart. They can include:

  • Bypass surgery: This is used when your coronary arteries are blocked and gives your blood a new pathway to your heart.
  • Angioplasty and stents: Angioplasty can be used to open blocked heart arteries. This includes procedures such as inserting a stent or performing a balloon angioplasty.
  • Cardioversion: For many people with heart disease, drugs alone will not convert an arrhythmia to a normal heart rhythm. Thus, electrical cardioversion may be necessary to restore a normal rhythm.
  • Heart transplant: This is the replacement of a person's diseased heart with that of a healthy donor's.
  • Pacemaker: This is a small device that is inserted into your heart cavity; it sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and rhythm.
  • Valve disease treatment: When treatment for heart valve disease includes surgery, it can be performed by traditional surgery or minimally invasive balloon valvuloplasty.

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Clicks Clinics will help you prevent or manage heart disease with their wide range of screening tests. These include:

  • Blood Pressure (BP) Test
  • Cholesterol Testing and Consultation
  • Lipogram Blood Test (to determine different types of cholesterol)
  • Clicks Full Basic Screening (BP, Body Mass Index or BMI, meal guide and exercise plan)
  • Clicks Screening Measurements only (BP and BMI)
  • Clicks Comprehensive Screening (BP, BMI, Glucose and Cholesterol screening, plus meal and exercise plan)

To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clicks Clinics online

For more info
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa

Read More: Heart Disease Super Section