Medications for Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is a serious condition that can lead to heart attack or cardiac arrest. Coronary artery disease is a condition where the arteries that feed blood to the heart muscle are blocked, inhibiting blood circulation to the tissue and causing death of the cells. The death of heart cells is what leads to a heart attack. The condition can be treated using medication. For some people, medication is sufficient for recovery. Others may require angioplasty, which is a surgery in which the plaque buildup causing the blockage is removed. When angioplasty is not a viable option, the patient may need bypass surgery. Bypass surgery is performed by using a vein from the leg or an artery from the chest and attaching it to the coronary arteries to bypass the blocked portion of the blood vessels. Some patients require bypass surgery in several locations of the heart.
One of the main causes of coronary artery disease is the increase in LDLs. LDLs (bad cholesterol) builds up in the arteries and blocks the proper blood flow to heart cells. The blockage of blood causes the heart cells to lose oxygen and eventually die. Drugs that lower cholesterol help limit the buildup of plaque on the arteries and therefore treat the disease. A popular drug for lowering LDL levels is statins.
Aspirin is an over-the-counter remedy for pain and fever, but it is also a blood thinner. By thinning the blood, there is a decreased likelihood of clots. Blood clots are common in patients with coronary artery disease. Clotting is a dangerous condition since clots can travel to areas of the body and block blood flow. This is a common cause of stroke. If a clot travels to the lungs, breathing is affected.
Beta blockers are used to slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure. When plaque builds up on the artery walls, the heart needs to pump harder to compensate for the obstruction. This causes a higher blood pressure, which is called hypertension. Beta blockers slow the heart rate, which reduces the chance of heart damage and possible failure.
Angiotensin-converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
ACE inhibitors reduce the resistance from the blood vessels. The reduction of resistance reduces blood pressure and puts less strain on the heart. The veins also receive more blood, so the ventricles of the heart have increased blood supply, which creates a better output during contraction. ACE inhibitors are also used in patients who have had heart attacks previously.
Nitroglycerin is similar to ACE inhibitors. Nitroglycerin opens arteries and allows the coronary blood vessels to supply the heart muscle with oxygen. Nitroglycerin is supplied in tablets, sprays and patches. The dilation of the coronary arteries helps patients who have chest pain from increased blood pressure. It also helps the heart by reducing its demand for blood.