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How Is Heart Failure Treated?

A few years ago, CNN released a special on heart disease called “The Last Heart Attack,” which showcased some of the present and future treatments out there. Although, we have made many strides in the treatment of heart disease, we are still a long way from getting to the last heart attack as heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States. One in four deaths in the United States is related to heart disease in some fashion, and more than 700,000 people will have a heart attack this year. Let’s take a look at how heart disease is treated and what may be in line for the future.

• Lifestyle Changes: Before anything else, your doctor will ask you whether you smoke, how much you drink, how much you exercise, and so on to see where improvements can be made. First and foremost, the doctor will recommend that you follow some sort of a nicotine cessation program if you smoke. If you drink more than two drinks in a session, he will likely recommend that you cut back on the alcohol, and exercise instead. Finally, if you’re obese, some sort of a weight loss plan will be recommended. “The Last Heart Attack” featured Caldwell Esselstyn’s vegan, low-fat diet that helped Bill Clinton resolve his heart disease issues, although any efforts to reduce red meat intake and salt will help improve your numbers.

• Medicine: The pharmaceutical industry has come a long way in the past few years in treating heart disease. The most common ones are ACE Inhibitors to lower blood pressure, Beta Blockers to lower heart rate and strengthen the heart, Statins to reduce blood cholesterol, Diuretic pills to get rid of extra fluids, and Aspirin to thin the blood. Biochemists are getting better at making pills that target the right part of the body for treatment.

• Surgery: When non-invasive methods like lifestyle changes and medicine don’t work, your cardiologist will likely recommend some sort of a surgical procedure. The most common procedures are angioplasty and bypass surgeries. Both help to improve blood flow to the heart and relieve chest pain. Although these surgeries can certainly improve heart failure, they are most effective when the patient follows a low fat diet, exercises, quits smoking, takes the correct medicine, and practices stress relief to put less pressure on the heart.

Chris Hardwick