Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease
Living With Heart Disease
A diagnosis of
coronary artery disease can be hard to accept and
understand. If you don't have symptoms, it may be especially hard to recognize
that heart disease is serious and can lead to other health problems.
It's important to talk with your doctor to learn about the disease and
what you can do to help manage it and keep it from getting worse.
Quit smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to reduce your
risk of future problems. When you quit, you quickly lower your risk of a heart attack.1
Exercise. Start an exercise program (if your doctor says it's safe). Try walking, swimming, biking, or jogging for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. Any activity you enjoy will work, as long as it gets your heart rate up.
Heart Disease: Exercising for a Healthy Heart
Eat a heart-healthy diet. This can help you keep your disease from getting
worse. A chart (What is a PDF document?) that compares heart-healthy diets can help you see what foods are suggested in each plan. Heart-healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish, and foods low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
- Heart-Healthy Eating
Stay at a healthy weight. Being active and eating healthy foods can help you stay at a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to.
- Weight Management
Your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program. In cardiac rehab, you will get education and support that help you build new, healthy
habits, such as eating right and getting more exercise.
Medicines are an important part of your treatment.
- Take your medicines exactly as directed. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
- Get a flu vaccine every year.
Get help for depression
Depression and heart disease are linked. People with heart disease are more likely to get depressed. And if a person has both depression and heart disease, he or she may not stay as healthy as possible. This can make depression and heart disease worse.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your doctor. Take this short quiz to check your symptoms:
Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed? For more information, see
Manage other health problems
To reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, you will need to
control other health problems you may have. These problems include high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Quitting smoking, changing
the way you eat, and getting more exercise can help. But if these things don't
work well enough, you may also need to take medicines.
High Cholesterol: Should I Take Statins?
High Blood Pressure: Should I Take Medicine?
Other steps to stay healthy
- Find emotional support. Think about joining a heart disease support group. Ask your doctor about the types of support that are available where you live. Meeting other people with the same problems can help you know you're not alone. Your family and friends can also give you support.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if you drink. This means having 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
- Manage stress and anger. Stress and anger can also hurt your heart.
They might make your symptoms worse. Try different ways to reduce stress, such as exercise, deep breathing, meditation, or
- Seek help for sleep problems. Sleep apnea is a common problem in people who have heart disease.
- Have sex when you're ready.
You can resume sexual activity after a heart attack when you are healthy and feel ready for it. Your doctor can help you know if your heart is healthy enough for sex.
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
April 5, 2012
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