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Unveiling the Truth About Coronary Artery Disease Prescription Medications

Jack Wolfson DO, FACC Board Certified Cardiologist

May 13, 2023

Millions of people turn to prescription medications to combat coronary artery disease (CAD). In fact, it’s estimated that Americans alone spend over $80 billion annually trying to manage heart disease.

Millions of people turn to prescription medications to combat coronary artery disease (CAD). In fact, it’s estimated that Americans alone spend over $80 billion annually trying to manage heart disease. Despite this huge investment, our nation’s health seems to be in a steady decline. Shouldn’t we be seeing marked improvements if these drugs work as promised?

As we aim to achieve our 100 year heart, it’s crucial to remember that the body isn’t inherently deficient in drugs. While prescription medications may temporarily quell symptoms, they do nothing to address the root cause of the problem. Worse, they often produce dangerous side effects contributing to additional health problems.

There’s a better solution. One that actually addresses the problem from the root cause, thus giving you the best chance for a true reversal of coronary artery disease. Taking a holistic, Mother Nature-endorsed approach is the key to heart health.

Understanding coronary artery disease

Imagine your heart as a garden and the coronary arteries the garden hoses that supply it with water (blood) to keep it nourished and thriving. Coronary artery disease is like a kink or blockage in the garden hose, preventing the water (blood) from reaching the garden (your heart).

With CAD, fatty deposits called plaque narrow the arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart muscle. When the heart doesn’t receive enough blood and oxygen, it can cause chest pain (angina) or even a heart attack. So, just as you’d want to unkink or clean out your garden hose to ensure a healthy garden, addressing the root causes of coronary artery disease to maintain a strong and vital heart is crucial.

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol and plaque aren’t the primary culprits of CAD. The true instigator is inflammation, often ignited by our less-than-ideal lifestyle choices. So, before we point fingers at cholesterol levels, let’s take a closer look at our habits – indulging in unhealthy diets, skipping exercise, and coping with constant stress. These factors contribute to an inflammatory response within our bodies, creating the perfect environment for plaque to accumulate, narrowing our arteries, and raising the stakes for heart complications.

Medications for CAD

There are many medications used to treat coronary artery disease, each with their own mechanisms and side effects. The following commonly prescribed drugs for coronary artery disease offer a temporary solution with hidden consequences.


Physicians have been prescribing statin drugs such as rosuvastatin, simvastatin, and atorvastatin for over four decades. They’ve been given to countless patients, raking in billions and creating a sense of safety. But are they really the heart-protecting miracle we’ve been led to believe?

The truth is that studies reveal only a meager annual reduction in the likelihood of dying, heart attack, or stroke for statin users compared to those on a placebo. Alarmingly, some research even points to increased mortality risk in older individuals and a contribution to coronary calcification.

Statins do indeed lower cholesterol, but they fall short when it comes to reducing death risk. So it’s a valid question: Why bother lowering cholesterol if it doesn’t keep the Grim Reaper at bay? And let’s not even start on the parade of side effects that come with statins. From muscle pain to decreased testosterone levels, from liver inflammation to neuropathy. Some users even report cognitive issues such as memory loss.

What’s truly worrisome is the false sense of security these drugs create. It’s a harsh reality that too many cling to the misguided belief that a pill will counterbalance their unhealthy habits. Unfortunately, they are gravely mistaken.


Beta-blockers are another often-prescribed drug for CAD. Metoprolol, atenolol, and bisoprolol are just some medications used to manage coronary artery disease. Physicians prescribe beta-blockers to help address some key factors contributing to CAD. For example, they block the effects of adrenaline on the beta receptors of the heart and blood vessels, which in turn: 

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Reduces heart rate

  • Decreases the heart’s workload

  • Improves oxygen supply to the heart

Beta-blockers may provide some relief, temporarily improving heart function. However, they fall short when it comes to addressing the root cause of CAD.

A 2015 study revealed that while beta-blockers can be somewhat helpful for individuals who’ve had recent heart attacks, they offer little aid to those diagnosed with stable coronary artery disease. However, just last week, another study concluded that long-term use of beta-blockers post-heart attack doesn’t boost cardiovascular health or fend off future heart attacks.


When we sustain an injury, such as a cut to the finger, platelets rush to the scene and help with repairs. In the case of CAD, repeated damage to the lining of the arteries (endothelium) causes plaque to develop. The platelets rush to the injury in large groups, causing blood clots.

Antiplatelet drugs are often prescribed for patients with coronary artery disease to help reduce the risk of blood clots forming within the arteries. Blood clots obstruct blood flow to the heart muscle leading, potentially leading to angina and heart attacks.

Examples of antiplatelets are clopidogrel, ticagrelor, and cilostazol. However, the most commonly prescribed antiplatelet is aspirin. Daily baby aspirin has been a widely accepted practice for decades, with millions taking it prophylactically.

However, it’s crucial not to overlook the risks associated with aspirin use, which include increased chances of hemorrhagic stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, stomach inflammation, and severe reactions like Reye’s syndrome.

Three significant studies in 2018 questioned the recommendations for daily aspirin intake, finding no improvement in lifespan for healthy adults over 65 and even higher death rates due to cancer. One particular study discovered that while aspirin did manage to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in diabetic patients without prior heart attack or stroke experiences, it also upped the bleeding risk by a startling 30 percent.

In response, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology revamped their guidelines, cautioning against daily aspirin for folks over 70 or anyone with a bleeding risk who hasn’t had a run-in with cardiovascular disease. Following suit, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also issued new draft guidelines, suggesting that adults over 60 without a history of heart attack or stroke should steer clear of daily aspirin, as the risk of bleeding tips the scale against potential heart-related advantages.


When coronary artery blockages become significantly troublesome, folks may find themselves grappling with chest pain, or what we commonly call angina. This is when we often call in nitrates to help. The most frequently prescribed nitrate is nitroglycerin. Their goal? To make life a tad easier by tackling symptoms caused by the heart muscle’s less-than-stellar blood flow. Angina typically shows up when plaque gets a bit too comfy in the coronary arteries. It narrows those vital pathways and makes it a real challenge for our dear heart to get the oxygen and nutrients it’s practically begging for.

Sure, nitrates might swoop in and ease some of that discomfort, but they don’t always play nice. They bring along a few party crashers like headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, flushing, and low blood pressure. Oh, and don’t forget the occasional rapid heartbeat or the sneaky tolerance that develops, making the medication less of a hero as time ticks away.

Other medications that sometimes find their way into the mix for coronary artery disease include blood pressure-lowering drugs, like calcium channel blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).

In 2020, the FDA approved another cholesterol-lowering medication called Nexletol™ (bempedoic acid). This drug is often prescribed alongside statins to further lower cholesterol, which, as we know, is not the cause of CAD. Side effects associated with this medication include high uric acid, leading to gout. Use of bempedoic is also associated with an increased risk of tendon rupture.

Why drugs don’t work for CAD

Conventional medicine would like us to believe that prescription drugs are the “cure” for coronary artery disease. However, these medications don’t actually target the inflammation that’s the true catalyst behind the condition.  Consequently, when it comes to reducing the risk of catastrophic events like heart attacks and strokes, CAD-treating meds don’t make a significant dent. Plus, they often come with a laundry list of undesirable side effects.

Additionally, these prescribed potions don’t provide the essential nutrients our hearts need to function at their best. In some cases, they may even rob our bodies of crucial vitamins and minerals. The sense of security these medications offer can be misleading, steering us away from addressing the root causes contributing to heart disease.

Drug alternatives for treating CAD

Pharmaceutical medications aren’t the ultimate solution for stopping heart disease, which may be unsettling for those who have grown to rely on them for maintaining their health. Although there isn’t a miraculous cure for coronary artery disease, clear strategies exist to alter its course. To truly mend the heart, one must Eat Well, Live Well, and Think Well.

Eat Well

Finding a cure for CAD means going back to our roots and embracing a wholesome, organic diet that harks back to our ancestors’ eating habits. The best treatment for heart disease is loading our plates with a colorful array of organic vegetables, wild seafood, grass-fed beef and organ meat, free-range poultry, and eggs.

And while we’ve been told to stay away from fats, our hearts actually need them. So eliminate unhealthy trans fats, but add in heart-healthy fats from olives, coconuts, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

Equally important is being vigilant about what we keep off our plates. Dodging gluten-laden products, GMOs, pesticides, and other nasty chemicals is a must for maintaining a heart-friendly lifestyle. By focusing on fueling our bodies with nutritious, dense foods, we can set ourselves on a path to turn the tide against coronary artery disease.

Live Well

A healthy heart necessitates a wholesome lifestyle, with ample physical activity—ideally outdoors—as a potent means to counter heart disease. Immersing oneself in nature, inhaling fresh air, engaging with the trees, and soaking in the sun’s healing rays all contribute to a sturdy cardiovascular system. Balancing our hectic lives with restorative sleep is crucial as well.

Emerging evidence also connects environmental toxins, mold, and electromagnetic frequencies to cardiovascular disease, underscoring the importance of identifying ways to minimize these exposures for a healthy heart.

Finally, add a highly-qualified chiropractor to your health care team. You’ll be suprised as how much your chiropractor can assist you and your heart health.

Think Well

Research has shed light on some fascinating connections between our emotional state and heart health. It turns out that those battling depression face a substantially higher risk of developing clogged arteries. And would you believe that loneliness might hike up the odds of having a heart attack by almost 30 percent?

It’s often the case that doctors don’t give emotional health the spotlight it deserves when it comes to heart matters. The reality, however, is that our thoughts and emotions profoundly influence coronary artery disease. Combating heart disease involves spending time with loved ones while steering clear of toxic relationships. Indulge in hobbies that spark joy and find your happiness.

Next Steps

While there is a time and a place for prescription drugs, they are not the ultimate solution for coronary artery disease. If you’re currently taking medication for CAD and are interested in exploring alternative options, we invite you to schedule a 20-minute complimentary health coaching strategy call with a Natural Heart Doctor health coach. This session will provide personalized guidance and support, empowering you to take control of your heart health and embark on a journey toward your 100 year heart.

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