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How are blocked arteries treated?

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Quick Answer

Changes to lifestyle, medication, stent placement and coronary artery bypass surgery can treat blocked arteries, according to Mayo Clinic. An individual can also keep a close eye on his cholesterol, eat healthier foods, properly manage his stress and keep his weight under control.

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Medications often used to treat blocked arteries include cholesterol-modifying medications, aspirin, nitroglycerin and beta blockers, notes Mayo Clinic. Doctors prescribe angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers to treat high blood pressure and prevent coronary artery disease from advancing. Taking aspirin may not be a viable option for individuals on blood thinners or who have a bleeding disorder.

Stent placement is a more aggressive option used to treat blocked arteries, says Mayo Clinic. A doctor inserts a tube, balloon and wire through the narrowed section of the artery before inflating the balloon to press arterial deposits against the walls of the arteries. The stent remains in the artery to keep it open and may release occasional doses of medication to aid in keeping pathways open.

During a coronary artery bypass surgery, the surgeon creates a graft to improve blood flow around the problematic coronary artery, according to Mayo Clinic. Doctors usually only use this procedure for severely narrowed coronary arteries.

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