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Coronary artery disease (CAD)
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Coronary artery disease

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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HEART & BLOOD

Heart Disease

HEART & BLOOD

Heart Attack & Failure

From MayoClinic.com

Prevention

How you live your life can greatly affect the health of your heart and your coronary arteries. Taking the following steps can help you prevent coronary artery disease, as well as a heart attack and congestive heart failure:

  • Don't smoke. Smoking and secondhand smoke are major risk factors for coronary artery disease. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and forces your heart to work harder. Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in blood and damages the lining of blood vessels.

  • Control your blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked every two years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent measurement if you have blood pressure higher than 115/75 mm Hg or a history of heart disease. Your risk of coronary heart disease doubles with every 20/10 mm Hg increase over 115/75 mm Hg.

  • Check your cholesterol. Have your blood cholesterol levels checked regularly. If your blood cholesterol level is undesirably high, your doctor can prescribe changes in your diet and medications to help lower your cholesterol and protect your cardiovascular health. Having an LDL level above 160 or HDL below 40 places you at a higher risk of heart disease.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps prevent coronary artery disease by helping you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. If it's been a while since you exercised, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program and start exercising in 10-minute intervals, and then gradually increase the amount of time you spend exercising.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of coronary artery disease, but by losing weight, you can reduce that risk.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Too much saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet can narrow the arteries leading to your heart. A diet high in salt can raise your blood pressure. Follow your doctor's and dietitian's advice on eating a heart-healthy diet. Fish is part of a heart-healthy diet because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve blood cholesterol levels and prevent blood clots. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables also is encouraged. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants — vitamins and minerals that help prevent everyday wear and tear on your coronary arteries.

  • Get regular medical checkups. Some of the main risk factors for coronary artery disease — high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — have no symptoms in their early stages. Coronary artery disease itself may produce no symptoms. But your doctor can perform tests to check that you're free of these conditions. If a problem is found, you and your doctor can manage it early to prevent complications.

  • Manage stress. To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce stress in your daily activities. Rethink workaholic habits and find healthy ways to minimize or deal with stressful events as well as anger in your life.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/14/08 11:09 PM