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Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for adults in America and is something many people live with for the rest of their lives. With this in mind, it is understandable to question if it can be reversed. After all, the ability to do so would dramatically improve lives while simultaneously improving health outlooks. 

So, can heart disease be reversed? If it can’t, what lifestyle changes and treatment options are there? Keep reading to discover the answers to these questions and more. 

Related: How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Can Heart Disease Be Reversed? 

Heart disease comes from a buildup of fatty material in your arteries. These obstruct your arteries and make it harder for them to do their job. This goes on to cause the problems associated with heart disease. 

Unfortunately, once you have heart disease, you cannot get rid of it. The fatty material in your arteries won’t leave, and no medical treatment can currently remove it. 

A mother and son running next to a bridge in NY

Preventing Heart Disease

The irreversible nature of heart disease makes preventing it in the first place a priority. Prevention starts with understanding the difference between the controllable and uncontrollable risk factors that contribute to the development of heart disease. 

Controllable factors can be managed. By staying on top of these, anyone can minimize their risk of developing heart disease. 

However, uncontrollable factors play a part too. Things like family history, age, and gender all have an impact on the likelihood that an individual will develop heart disease. 

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So, preventing heart disease is about looking at these risk factors and doing whatever is possible to minimize the total risk. This means accepting that some risks will always be present due to uncontrollable factors. Then you must take advantage of controllable factors to ensure no additional risk is added. This is particularly important for anyone with a lot of risk from uncontrollable factors, as they will be more interested in doing any more damage to their cardiovascular system. 

Minimizing Controllable Heart Disease Risks

The controllable risks relating to heart disease are plentiful. However, a few greatly impact health and are more prevalent than others. 

Physical Activity

Physical activity is one of the best ways to fight against heart disease. Physical activity pushes an individual’s cardiovascular system to work more and, in doing so, helps reduce the buildup of fatty material. 

Cardiovascular exercises are a great way to do this. Exercises like this are better at minimizing the risk of heart disease when compared to other exercises, like strength training. 

Physical activity doesn’t just mean exercise, though. More people have jobs that require them to spend all day sitting in an office than ever before. Many then go on to spend the rest of their day sitting at home. A rise in sedentary lifestyles like this is a major contributor to the rise in heart disease. 

This can easily be rectified by adding some movement into the routine. People can take a break from their computers on a regular basis and simply walk around to get their blood flowing. A simple change like this can profoundly impact heart disease risk factors. 

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The other major controllable heart disease risk factor is diet. What someone puts into their body has a direct impact on the health of their cardiovascular system. 

Since the main concern with heart disease is a buildup of fatty material, avoiding fatty foods is a good starting point. Specifically, foods that are high in trans fats and high in saturated fats should be avoided. Foods in this category include red meats, foods that have been fried, and full-fat dairy products. In large quantities, these directly contribute to damage to the arteries. 

Instead, foods that are low in or completely avoid trans fats and saturated fats should be eaten. These include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins. However, even these foods can be made unhealthy with a few alterations. Deep frying vegetables or covering them in copious amounts of butter will turn something previously heart-healthy into quite the opposite. 


Stress has a less obvious but still very serious effect on heart disease. It impacts the heart through a change in blood pressure. Heightened stress leads to high blood pressure, which is bad for the cardiovascular system. 

While stress is technically a controllable factor, it can be hard to control. This is because stress often comes from external factors, like someone’s job or life situation. This is why learning how to manage stress is so important. 

Related: Improving Awareness of Peripheral Artery Disease

Underlying Health Issues

Other health issues can go on to contribute to heart disease. Issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol strain the cardiovascular system. If left untreated, this excess strain can lead to heart disease. 

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Fortunately, these conditions can be treated. Once they are treated, the issues they present are minimized. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t have the resources to treat these issues or aren’t aware they have them. This is partially what leads to the income disparity in heart disease. People in lower-income situations are often unable to afford to go to the doctor to have their issues diagnosed. Even once the issues are diagnosed, they may be unable to afford treatment. 

Smoking and Alcohol

Smoking and alcohol come with a plethora of negative health effects. One of these is an increased risk of heart disease. Eliminating the risk involved with these means eliminating or at least significantly reducing these behaviors. 

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Heart Disease Treatment

While heart disease cannot be cured or reversed, it can be treated. Many treatments involve medications and medical treatments that help reduce the negative impact of heart disease. Some even address mental issues that come with a heart disease diagnosis. 

In addition, minimizing risk factors helps prevent heart disease from worsening. If heart disease is caused by a diet filled with fatty foods, it will continue to worsen if that diet is sustained. 

In any case, getting proper treatment involves working with a healthcare professional. They can develop a treatment plan that addresses heart disease and recommend lifestyle changes to go along with it. 

a black couple eating breakfast

Managing Heart Disease

Unfortunately, heart disease cannot be reversed. However, it can be managed by minimizing risk factors. These make it less likely to develop heart disease in the first place or make it so that heart disease has less of an impact on an individual’s life. 

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