Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Is Heart Disease Reversible?

Wednesday, 11 Sep 2013 07:53 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: Can heart disease be reversed? I have a 60 percent blockage in my small artery right where it enters the large artery. Is surgery necessary?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
Yes, heart disease can be reversed! This is a very good question. People in your condition don't usually need to have heart surgery (stent or bypass). But the real issue here is not so much the blockage (usually surgery is not recommended for blockages under 70-75 percent), but the process that led to the blockage. That's what you that need to focus on.
 
Treating disease of the inner lining of the blood vessel can reduce inflammation within the vessel wall and lead to a decrease in the blockage and the risk of dangerous blood clotting — as long as it has not calcified. Once calcified, a blockage will not reduce in size, but the same treatments used to reduce the narrowing of non-calcified lesions will also reduce the "stickiness" of most vessel narrowed areas.
 
The internal inflammation can predispose us to heart attack and stroke because it is the irritated surfaces of blood vessels promote clotting and immune activity that sets us up for the rupture and destabilization of cholesterol plaques. Here's how to reduce your risks:
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Lower your LDL cholesterol to under 80.
  • Keep triglycerides under 150.
  • Raise your HDL cholesterol to over 60.
  • Exercise regularly to manage your weight, aiming for a body mass index (BMI) of under 26.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all, and don't abuse drugs.
  • Keep your fasting blood-sugar level to under 100.
  • Take any prescription medications you are on as directed.
  • Take supplements wisely, as directed by your doctor — fish oil, aspirin, calcium, vitamins, as needed.
  • Maintain your health and immunity, by keeping up to date on immunizations.

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