How is coronary artery atherosclerosis treated?

Updated: Apr 09, 2021
  • Author: Sandy N Shah, DO, MBA, FACC, FACP, FACOI; Chief Editor: Yasmine S Ali, MD, MSCI, FACC, FACP  more...
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See also the Guidelines section for recommendations.

The treatment goals for patients with coronary artery atherosclerosis are to relieve symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD) and to prevent future cardiac events, such as unstable angina, AMI, and death.

The mainstays of pharmacologic therapy of angina include nitrates, beta-blockers, statins, PCSK-9 inhibitors, Ezetimibe, calcium-channel blockers, and ranolazine. [1] The prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis requires control of the known modifiable risk factors for this disease. This includes therapeutic lifestyle changes and the medical treatment of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus.

Typically, patients with CAD are first seen after they present with a cardiac event. The main focus of their treatment is the index event. The past 4 decades have witnessed tremendous progress in the areas of acute cardiac care, coronary care unit expansion, thrombolytic usage, and PCI. Nevertheless, prevention of cardiac events is likely to have the largest impact on decreasing the burden of atherosclerosis.

High-risk subgroups, in particular, can be targeted for early intervention. Grover and colleagues showed statin therapy in diabetic patients without CAD to be as cost-effective as statin therapy in nondiabetic patients with CAD. Pharmacotherapeutic strategies that affect the risk factor profile, such as the administration of statins for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) reduction or the administration of agents that alter atherosclerotic plaque, are of paramount importance.

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