Posts Tagged ‘medication’

Treatment Options for Peripheral Artery Disease

In this post, we’ll continue our blog series by examining the various treatments for treating peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Lifestyle

Before we delve into the various medical treatment options for PAD, we must point out the importance of taking control of your own health. If you’re suffering from diabetes, this means that you must carefully monitor your blood sugar levels. If you’re a smoker, we cannot stress the importance of doing everything in your power to quit the habit. PAD is very common among smokers, and smoking only exacerbates the effects of the condition.

Additionally, we strongly encourage regular exercise as a means of treatment—it increases blood flow to your legs and can actually alleviate symptoms. For some, exercise may be painful; however, you can often work your way up to a level of exercise that’s extremely beneficial as well as tolerable.

Medication

Medication may be necessary to offset the effects of PAD and lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Antiplatelets affect blood platelets, causing them to be less likely to stick together to form blood clots. One of the most common antiplatelets is aspirin.

Anticoagulants prevent blood clotting, but must be monitored carefully for side effects. Two examples of anticoagulants are heparin and warfarin.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs have also proven to be effective in preventing heart attacks and stroke. Additionally, they can improve atherosclerosis and alleviate painful symptoms resulting from claudication. Statins and niacin are both examples of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Angioplasty & Surgery

Many times, PAD patients require treatments such as angioplasty or surgery. As we described in our last blog post, angioplasty involves the insertion of a catheter into the groin area and then into the narrowing arteries. Partially blocked arteries can be opened through the insertion of a tiny stent or balloon.

For patients with more severe instances of PAD, more invasive means of surgery may be necessary, such as endarterectomy, which removes the buildup of plaque within the affected arteries. Bypass surgery may also be performed, which involves the replacement of blocked arteries with a graft. This encourages blood flow to move around the narrowed or blocked arteries.

If you have questions on any of these procedures or treatments, please be sure to let us know in the comments.

About Gregory Robertson, MD:

Dr. Robertson specializes in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory. Some of his areas of clinical interest include atherosclerosis, cardiac catheterization, cardiovascular disease, valve disease, and peripheral artery disease. Dr. Robertson holds an organizational leadership membership at The American College of Cardiology, and has contributed to multiple publications in his field.

About Ravi Veeraswamy, MD:

Dr. Veeraswamy specializes in surgery and vascular surgery, and has been practicing with Emory since 2006. Some of his areas of clinical interest include aortic aneurysm, carotid endarterectomy, peripheral arterial and vascular disease, and vascular surgery. Dr. Veeraswamy had major or recent publications in the Washington University Manual of Surgery, Vascular and Endovascular Challenges, and the Annals of Vascular Surgery.

Medication Treatments for Arrhythmia

In previous blog entries, we’ve covered medical procedures for heart arrhythmias. In this post, we’ll explore multiple drug treatment regimens we use to treat various cardiac arrhythmias.

There are several medications used in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. The choice of medicine depends on the type of arrhythmia and the presence of different comorbidities, such as heart, kidney or liver diseases.

Let’s explore the main categories of these medications:

Beta Blockers: Beta blockers block the effect of adrenaline on the heart and blood vessels. They are commonly used in the treatment of different arrhythmias. They are mainly used as blood pressure medication and also used in the treatment of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and angina. They are usually safe and well tolerated by patients.

Calcium Channel Blockers: Calcium channel blockers disrupt the process of calcium entering the heart and blood vessel tissues.  As with beta blockers, this blockage results in lower blood pressure, which is why this medication is also used to treat high blood pressure and angina. Calcium channel blockers are available in short and long acting forms.  This class of medication is also usually safe and well tolerated.

Antiarrhythmic Drugs: Antiarrhythmic drugs are often used in treating different arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation (A-fib). Different antiarrhytmic drugs are available, such as flecainide, propafenone, sotalol, and amiodarone. Each of these drugs has different side effects. A common side effect to all antiarrhythmic drugs is pro-arrhythmia, i.e. the occurrence of dangerous arrhythmias, which is why these medications should only be prescribed by a specialist. Patients taking these drugs should have an ECG done every 6 months to check for any evidence of medication toxicity.

Do you have any questions about any of these treatments or about cardiac arrhythmias in general? If so, I encourage you to leave a note in the comment section below.

About Mikhael El-Chami, MD: Dr. El-Chami completed his residency at Emory in 2003, he also was nominated for a chief residency year at Emory in 2004. His training in cardiology and electrophysiology was completed at Emory as well. His areas of clinical interest include: Cardiac arrhythmia ablation, cardiac resynchronization therapy and prevention of sudden cardiac death. Dr. El-Chami holds organizational leadership memberships with the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm society, and speaks Arabic and French fluently.