Every heart problem doesn’t immediately lead to surgery. Treating problems with medications instead of, before or after surgery plays an important role in a heart patient maintaining their lifestyle, as explained by McLeod Cardiologist Alan Blaker, MD:
Here’s a summary of Dr. Blaker’s description of Medical Therapy for heart problems:
When we talk about the treatment of cardiovascular disease, we understand that sometimes procedures aren’t the only solution. It’s important to understand that patients can sometimes benefit from medical therapy in addition to or in place of procedures. And, I think that our team at McLeod tries to take the patient’s best interest at heart. Would we want patients to go through unnecessary procedures? Of course not.
We think it’s important to understand what the indications are: to try to follow guidelines or try to follow studies that help us decide – “What’s the best option to treat a patient?” Sometimes, patients don’t fit into a particular study. So, we have to use a variety of information from the medical literature to arrive at the best treatment plan. We regularly consult with our other cardiac and vascular specialists. That’s part of the team approach to care. It may involve medication, going through a procedure, or medications after a procedure, and then careful follow up with the patient.
What we have done at McLeod is to rely on studies that have evaluated patients with different diagnosis, such as heart attacks, blockages in their heart, vascular or lipid concerns. We use that information, along with the guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, to develop the best treatment plan for a patient. This defines medical cardiology. It’s managing congestive heart failure with state-of-the-art medications to help patients live longer and reducing their need for admissions to the hospital. It may also be patients with irregular heart rhythm problems that we’re trying to manage medically and put on blood thinners to prevent strokes. Or it could be patients with chronic angina or blockages that can’t be cleared and we now want to improve their quality of life by managing with medications.
There are always new medications and it’s important to decide what’s going to be best for the patient. One particular heart failure medication is Entresto. It has been found to reduce the risk of dying with congestive heart failure by about 20 percent and the risk of readmission to the hospital by 20 percent.
Another example is the newer injectable cholesterol medications. They are not for everybody. They are more expensive, so, we want to be careful about who receives this prescription. But for patients, who can’t get their lipids controlled with the usual statin type medicines and have underlying blockage problems, they may benefit from these type of cholesterol medications. We had very good success in these cases.
A patient can come see McLeod Cardiology Associates directly by calling our office. We also like patients to have a primary care physician. Referrals from their primary care doctor are always helpful, but not required.
We try to get patients in as soon as possible and also try to connect them with primary care if they don’t have one. We want to work very closely with their primary care doctor to help manage their cardiovascular conditions.