Specific treatment for atherosclerosis will be determined by your doctor based on a number of factors. These include age, overall health and medical history, the extent and location of the problem area and your signs and symptoms. Treatment may include:

  • Modification of risk factors: Risk factors that may be modified include smoking, elevated cholesterol levels, elevated blood glucose levels, lack of exercise, poor dietary habits and elevated blood pressure
  • Medications, such as:
    • Antiplatelet drugs (which decrease the ability of platelets in the blood to stick together and cause clots)
    • Anticoagulants (often described as "blood thinners")
    • Antihyperlipidemics that lower lipids (fats) in the blood, particularly low density lipid (LDL) cholesterol. This class of medication includes statins, bile acid sequestrants and nicotinic acid (niacin).
    • Antihypertensives, or medications used to lower blood pressure
  • Coronary angioplasty: With this procedure, a balloon is used to create a bigger opening in the vessel to increase blood flow. Treatments in this category might include: balloon angioplasty, atherectomy, laser angioplasty, or coronary artery stent.
  • Coronary artery bypass: Most commonly referred to as simply "bypass surgery," this surgery is often performed in people who have angina (chest pain) due to coronary artery disease where plaque has built up in the arteries. During the surgery, a bypass is created by grafting a piece of a vein above and below the blocked area of a coronary artery, enabling blood to flow around the obstruction. Veins are usually taken from the leg, but arteries from the chest or arm may also be used to create a bypass graft.