Medically reviewed on February 24, 2023 by Karen L. Janson, MS, MD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, responsible for one out of every five deaths. It’s characterized by blocked arteries that can make it difficult for your body to supply adequate blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your heart .
Unlike the plaque that coats our teeth, the plaque—or cholesterol deposits—that build up in our arteries cannot be removed entirely, although there are ways to reduce your cholesterol levels .
That said, is heart disease curable?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for heart disease . However, there are ways to improve your health, including your heart health.
Heart disease encompasses several heart conditions, including coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease (CHD), the most common type of heart disease . Thus, it’s the condition most people are referring to when they talk about heart disease.
But what exactly is it?
Coronary arteries are the vessels that supply your heart with blood. CHD occurs when one or more of these arteries become partially blocked due to a buildup of plaque, which is made up of fatty substances such as cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood . This plaque buildup can make it harder for the arteries to supply the heart muscle with enough oxygen and nutrients . In turn, CHD may result in:
Oftentimes, CHD doesn’t present with symptoms until someone experiences a heart attack, which occurs when a coronary artery becomes severely narrowed or blocked, depriving a portion of the heart from oxygen. If blood and oxygen flow are not restored quickly, that area of heart muscle will begin to die .
If you have any symptoms of heart disease, your healthcare provider can perform a diagnosis using a variety of tests, which may include :
Unfortunately, there is no cure for coronary heart disease (CHD). Medical researchers have yet to find a way to eliminate artery plaque entirely.
However, your healthcare provider can recommend several methods to help manage your symptoms and mitigate your chances of experiencing a heart attack. Prevention is key since heart muscle cannot regrow after it is damaged by a heart attack . Your provider may suggest the following.
ifestyle decisions, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively, living a sedentary lifestyle, and eating a diet high in saturated fats, are some of the leading causes of heart disease . You may be able to slow or reverse the development of heart disease by improving these factors.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe certain heart disease medications to treat your condition, such as :
An angioplasty is a procedure that manually widens a blocked coronary artery using a balloon or laser . In some angioplasties, a stent (a wire coil) may be inserted to keep the artery open.
CABG surgery can restore blood flow to the heart muscle by surgically creating an alternate path. A healthy blood vessel from the patient’s leg or chest is reinserted into the coronary circulation, bypassing the blocked artery .
Since there’s no cure for heart disease, the best way to avoid its negative impact on health is to prevent heart disease from developing in the first place.
You can reduce your risk of heart disease by :
If you have questions such as, “When should I be worried about an irregular heartbeat,” or “Can you have a heart attack and not know it,” it may be time talk to a qualified healthcare provider. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes and monitoring heart disease risk factors, such as total cholesterol, HDL, calculated LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, hs-CRP, and HbA1c levels can also be helpful.
With an at-home Heart Health Test from Everlywell and a quick finger-prick, those with a personal or family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure can identify potential risk factors. The CLIA-certified results are reviewed by an independent board-certified physician and reported to you through a secure HIPAA-compliant system.