Heart Disease Home > Reversing Heart Disease

It is not yet known if it is possible for heart disease to be reversed. Cholesterol medicines known as statins have been shown to stop the progression of heart disease, but only one study of one particular type of statin appeared to show promise by reducing plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). While making certain lifestyle changes may not be able to "reverse" the disease, they can significantly reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Can Heart Disease Be Reversed?

Coronary heart disease ("heart disease") is simply a condition wherein the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries) become clogged with fatty deposits known as plaque. Heart disease slows or stops the blood flow to parts of the heart, causing chest pain (angina) or even a heart attack. About 13 million people in the United States have heart disease, and it is the number one killer of both men and women. Each year, more than half a million Americans die from heart disease.
"Is reversing heart disease possible?" That's a common question asked by people with and without heart disease. In some respects, if the answer to this question was yes, it would be considered the holy grail of medicine, given the huge impact of heart disease on our society.
In reality, we are not sure whether or not reversing the disease is possible. Recently, a study was published that showed a cholesterol medication could "reverse heart disease" by showing that plaque buildup was decreased. It did not, however, examine the effects of this plaque decrease on heart attacks and strokes. We also know that by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, the risk of heart disease can drop dramatically, although heart disease in a lot of these cases is prevented from becoming worse rather than reversed.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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