Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been on rising in the past five decades. It is mainly attributed to the fact of a more sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. CVD is difficult to notice as there are no symptoms of it despite being named as a disease. CVD is often presented as complications or worsening of the atherosclerotic arteries such as heart attack or chest pain due to ruptured plaque or thrombosis in the coronary artery supplying the heart muscle.
What are arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis? Arteriosclerosis is a hardening and stiffening of the arterial wall while the latter is the formation of arterial plaque which causes narrowing of the blood vessel. Atherosclerosis is believed to cause hardening of the arterial wall when chemicals such as calcium also deposited into the plaque making them stiffer.
Nonetheless, the difference is only noticed when examined under a histological examination and have low distinction importance in the clinical sense.
Medical management of CVD has been shown to significantly improve the high-risk population such as diabetics, hypertension patients and obese people from getting complications such as stroke, heart attack, and peripheral artery disease. So what are the medical or medicines used for CVD or atherosclerosis/arteriosclerosis?
Statins are a class of drugs that can reduce the blood cholesterols and lipid (fats) level. Statins such as Atorvastatin or Lipitor is often used as primary or secondary prevention in CVD. Primary prevention is where a person does not have any complications of CVD but is at high risk of developing it due to risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes. Reducing blood cholesterol and lipids have been shown to slow the CVD process of plaque build-up.
Antiplatelets are types of drugs that prevent blood coagulation or clumping. In CVD patients, the platelets are easily aggregate/clumping when they in contact with the plaques. Antiplatelets such as aspirin works to prevent this from happening thus reducing the chance of thrombosis or blood clot in the arteries.
Fish oil contains n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). It has been proposed that PUFA can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke but evidence from clinical trials are still inconclusive. People can take a fish oil supplement or eat oily fish like salmon.
Taking anti-hypertensive and anti-diabetic medications
For people with high blood pressure or diabetes, the optimum treatment of these conditions has been shown to reduce CVD associated complications. Managing high blood pressure and diabetes requires intensive adherence to medication and lifestyle regimes. The goal is should be between 120-130/80 mmHg for the blood pressure while the sugar should be within the normal range as required.
It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of lifestyle modification in CVD patients. A lot of people do not consider exercise as a treatment. The mindset has to be changed as plenty of clinical trials have proved the efficacy of exercise in reducing the risk associated with CVD either with medication or without medication.
All in all, managing CVD involves close cooperation between patients and doctors. High cholesterol medicines together with other treatments of CVD have their long-term benefits. There is no quick solution to this matter but with perseverance and strong adherence to lifestyle change and CVD treatment, most patients will reap the benefits as other healthy population.