Coronary Artery Disease Self Care

If you have coronary artery disease, your doctor has probably talked to you about lifestyle changes you can make to slow the progression of coronary artery disease. In fact, some simple lifestyle changes can keep people from ever developing coronary artery disease or heart disease in the first place.

Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to keep your heart functioning properly.

Preventing Coronary Artery Disease: Lifestyle Changes

Here are some recommended lifestyle changes for people suffering from coronary artery disease. Before making any of these changes, discuss them with your doctor:

  • Control Your Blood Pressure: High blood pressure puts the heart and arteries under strain. Be sure to check your blood pressure regularly, at least every two years. If you have high blood pressure, be sure to get tested more frequently and take your blood pressure medication consistently.
  • Control Your Diabetes: Diabetes can contribute to coronary artery disease. If you are a diabetic, controlling your blood sugar can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Eat Heart-Healthy Foods: A diet rich in heart-healthy foods, such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables, that are low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol can help control weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. A heart-healthy diet can significantly lower your risk for heart disease or can help slow the progression of heart disease.
  • Get Plenty of Exercise: Exercise helps keep the heart healthy and helps control weight, diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about establishing an exercise plan for heart health. Most people should be getting 30 minutes to one hour of exercise at least three to five days of week.
  • Limit Your Alcohol Intake: In order to maintain good health, you should limit your alcohol intake. Women should have no more than one drink per day, while men should have no more than two drinks per day. If you have kidney or liver problems or if you are taking certain medications you should avoid alcohol.
  • Maintain an Appropriate Weight: Being overweight or underweight can impact your heart and put you at risk for heart disease. Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your weight. Weight management is especially important for men with waist measurements more than 40 inches and women with waist measurements more than 35 inches.
  • Monitor Your Cholesterol Levels: Cholesterol can clog your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease. Start getting cholesterol tests in your 20s and then have one performed at least every five years.
  • Reduce Stress Factors: Stress can raise your blood pressure and put unnecessary strain on your heart. Reduce the amount of stress in your life and ask your doctor to give you some tips on managing stress and learning to relax.
  • Stop Smoking: Smoking damages the heart and is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels, causing your heart to have to pump harder. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages the lining of your blood vessels. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
  • Take a Low-Dose Aspirin Every Day: Taking a low-dose aspirin can reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Talk to your doctor before beginning an aspirin regimen, as there is some risk of bleeding associated with aspirin.