Treatment options for atherosclerosis include lifestyle changes, medications, medical procedures and certain surgeries. Lifestyle changes are an important part of any atherosclerosis treatment plan.
Atherosclerosis is an important cause of "cardiovascular disease”, which includes heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease. Treatment of atherosclerosis aims to:
- Relieve symptoms.
- Reduce risk factors of atherosclerosis so as to slow or stop the build-up of plaque.
- Lower your risk of blood clots formation.
- Open or bypass plaque-clogged arteries.
- Prevent atherosclerosis-related diseases.
Treatment of atherosclerosis includes:
- Lifestyle changes.
- Medical procedures.
Lifestyle Changes: This is an important part of any atherosclerosis treatment plan. Some people may only need to introduce life style changes to manage atherosclerosis, but even those being treated with medicines, medical procedure or surgery, this should be an integral part of the treatment plan. Lifestyle changes can also help to prevent atherosclerosis.
- Being at healthy weight: If you are obese or overweight, aim to reach a healthy body weight (body mass index in the recommended range of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2). Being obese increases the risk of atherosclerosis and the related cardiovascular disease/s. Consult your doctor or a dietician to make a reasonable weight-loss plan for you.
- Eating healthy: Experts say that a healthy diet should include 6-8 servings of bread, cereal or rice, 2-4 servings of fresh fruit, 3-5 servings of fresh or frozen vegetables, 2-3 servings of non-fat milk, yogurt or cheese and 2-3 servings of lean meat, poultry, fish or dry beans. Maximum calories from fat should be less than 30% of the total calories in every meal. Foods rich in fat, processed foods, fried foods, high salt foods, refined grains, and simple sugars should be limited.
- Staying physically active: Exercising regularly not only improves your overall health, but lowers the risk of many diseases such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Any exercise (walking, swimming, biking or aerobics) for at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week is considered enough to improve cardiovascular health.
- Limit consumption of alcohol and quit smoking.
Certain medicines can help to slow the progress of plaque build-up in your arteries. You may be given medicines to manage other related problems such as high cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Some people may be given medicines to prevent blood clots from forming to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Taking all medicines as recommended by your doctor is essential to prevent complications and death related to atherosclerosis.
Medical Procedures and Surgery
People with severe atherosclerosis may need a medical procedure or surgery in addition to medicines and lifestyle changes. Procedures done to open arteries clogged or blocked due to plaque include:
Angioplasty: It is a procedure done to open narrow or blocked arteries. The procedure done to open blocked coronary (heart) arteries is known as coronary angioplasty.
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG): CABG is a surgical procedure done to restore blood flow to heart muscles. In this procedure, a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected or grafted to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted artery or vein improves blood flow to the heart by bypassing the blocked portion of the coronary artery. The surgery can improve blood flow to your heart, relieve chest pain and possibly prevent a heart attack.
Carotid endarterectomy: This surgery involves removal of plaque build-up from the carotid arteries in the neck. This procedure can help to improve blood flow to the brain and prevent a stroke.
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