Edexcel International A Level Biology

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1.20 Treatments for CVD: Benefits & Risks

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Treatments for CVD: Benefits & Risks

  • While reducing the risk factors and lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the best option, CVD is still very common and treatment options are needed
  • There are a number of different treatment options for cardiovascular disease, many of which involve taking medication
  • Types of medication for the treatment of CVD include
    • Antihypertensives
    • Statins
    • Anticoagulants
    • Platelet inhibitors


  • These drugs work by lowering blood pressure
    • High blood pressure is also known as hypertension
  • Lowering blood pressure reduces the risk of arterial endothelial damage and therefore reduces the risk of atheromas and thrombosis
  • Beta blockers, vasodilators and diuretics act as antihypertensives
    • Beta blockers prevent increases in heart rate
    • Vasodilators increase the diameter of the blood vessels
      • ACE inhibitors are a type of drug that block the production of angiotensin, a hormone that causes constriction of the blood vessels
      • This keeps the arteries dilated, which lowers the blood pressure
    • Diuretics reduce blood volume by decreasing the amount of sodium reabsorbed into the blood by the kidneys, therefore decreasing the volume of water reabsorbed into the blood


  • These drugs work by lowering blood cholesterol 
    • They block an enzyme in the liver which is needed to make cholesterol
  • This lowers the LDL concentration in the blood therefore reducing the risk of atheroma formation
    • LDLs are sometimes known as 'bad' cholesterol; at high levels they increase the risk of atheromas forming
  • Statins also reduce inflammation in the arterial lining, which lowers the risk of atherosclerosis


  • These drugs reduce blood clotting
    • Blood clotting can be referred to as blood coagulation
    • Warfarin is an anticoagulant that decreases the level of prothrombin in the bloodstream
  • Reduced formation of blood clots decreases the likelihood of thrombosis and therefore reduces the risk of blood vessels being blocked by blood clots

Platelet inhibitors

  • These are also substances which reduce blood clotting
    • Platelet inhibitors are a type of anticoagulant
    • Aspirin and clopidogrel are the most commonly used examples of these drugs
  • They prevent the clumping together of platelets, so preventing the formation of blood clots

Benefits and Risks of Cardiovascular Disease Drugs Table


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Author: Marlene

Marlene graduated from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in 2002 with a degree in Biodiversity and Ecology. After completing a PGCE (Postgraduate certificate in education) in 2003 she taught high school Biology for over 10 years at various schools across South Africa before returning to Stellenbosch University in 2014 to obtain an Honours degree in Biological Sciences. With over 16 years of teaching experience, of which the past 3 years were spent teaching IGCSE and A level Biology, Marlene is passionate about Biology and making it more approachable to her students.