Heart Disease Expert Forum
plaque-dissolving medication
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plaque-dissolving medication


  What are the names of some plaque dissolving drugs that can be used as an alternative to bypass surgery?
Dear Shannon,
There technically is no "alternative" to bypass surgery, although any patient can opt for medical management; medical management include medicines +/-angioplasty(balloon dilation of specific blockages with/without stent placement)
Angioplasty is not always successful and often is not done without surgical backup, i.e. if something goes seriously wrong with the balloon dilation and or the artery itself, the patient will be rushed to bypass surgery as a life saving measure (this happens on the order of 1% of the cases of angioplasty.)
Now back to medicines, there are NO clot dissolvers, however, there are plaque modifiers that have been proven in large scale studies (done worldwide) to reduce the future events for the cardiac patient (i.e.reduction of heart attack, stroke, need for bypass surgery, and death.These are cholesterol lowering medications like zocor, lipitor, mevacor, etc.)  Now MIND YOU that these studies were done on heart patients with known coronary artery disease, but not on patients who have had bypass surgery recommended and wish not to have it done.  
Many patients will ask their cardiologist if they can try medicines first, and only go for the bypass if they fail medical therapy.  I recommend you ask your cardiologist if medical therapy is something he will consider in you(in small percentage of patients it is NOT an option) and if this path is chosen, by how much will you be increasing your future risk of heart attack and death.
There are other drugs used mostly when there is a threatened heart attack and during an angioplasty that alter the coagulation system and make heart attack less likely.
I hope this informatin has been useful. Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provide specific diagnosis and therapies.  Feel free to write back with further questions.
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.  The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.





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