Diuretics (water pills) decrease fluid buildup in the body and are effective in treating high blood pressure. In addition, new research suggests that diuretics can help to prevent stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. For those who already have heart failure, diuretics can help to reduce fluid buildup in the lungs and swelling in the feet and ankles.
Nitrates relax blood vessels and are used to treat chest pain. Nitrates in different forms can be used to:
- Relieve the pain of an angina attack
- Prevent an expected episode
- Reduce the number of attacks that occur by using the medicine regularly on a long-term basis.
The most commonly used nitrate for angina is nitroglycerin.
Advanced atherosclerosis may require special procedures to open an artery and improve blood flow. These operations are usually done to ease severe chest pain or clear blood vessel blockages.
Examples of procedures used as atherosclerosis treatment include:
- Coronary angioplasty
- Plaque removal
- Stent placement
- Open heart surgery (known as coronary artery bypass surgery, or CABG for short)
- Bypass surgery of the leg arteries
- Carotid artery surgery.
An angioplasty is used to open blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. It can improve blood flow to your heart, relieve chest pain, and possibly prevent a heart attack. Sometimes, a stent is placed in the artery to keep it propped open after the procedure.
In most cases, coronary angioplasty is a planned procedure. But it is also used as an emergency treatment during a heart attack to quickly open a blocked coronary artery. The procedure minimizes damage during a heart attack and restores blood flow to the heart muscle.