Evaluating Treatments for Coronary Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a general term that describes conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. They both make up the cardiovascular system.

The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes layers of fatty material to build up inside the coronary arteries. This makes the lumen of the arteries more narrow and less elastic. So less blood can flow through and therefore less oxygen will reach the heart.

  • The fatty material is mainly formed from cholesterol

Less oxygen reaching the heart can put a strain on it because the heart requires oxygen to keep pumping. So it can lead to a heart attack.

Treating coronary heart disease requires either increasing the width of the lumen or lowering blood cholesterol. The two main methods of treatment are:

  • Stents
  • Statins


Stents are expandable tubes that are placed inside the arteries. This holds them open so that blood can keep flowing.

1. A narrow tube with a balloon is inserted into the blocked artery

2. The balloon is inflated to expand the stent against the wall of the artery (this increases the width of the lumen)

3. The tube and balloon are removed from the expanding stent


  • A relatively quick and simple surgery
  • Effective at reducing the risk of a heart attack
  • Lasts a long time


  • It requires surgery, which can lead to a heart attack or an infection
  • There is a chance that the patient will develop a blood clot
  • It can result in serious bleeding


Cholesterol is an essential lipid but there are two types:

  • LDL – Bad cholesterol
  • HDL – Good cholesterol

Statins are drugs that can help to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. The statins block an enzyme in the liver that is required to produce cholesterol. This lowers the rate at which fatty acids build up, lowering the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).


  • Reduces the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Increases the level of HDL (good) cholesterol, which can help to get rid of fatty deposits
  • Not only decreases the chances of CHD, but also reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks


  • Have to be taken regularly over long periods of time
  • Can cause side effects, such as muscle pains, headaches and even kidney failure
  • Should not be prescribed to pregnant or breastfeeding women