Reducing Risks When You Have Heart Disease
By Elizabeth Smoots, MD
People with heart disease are at increased risk for suffering a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. But there is evidence that risk factor modification can help people with coronary artery disease (CAD). Taking steps like lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol can improve survival and quality of life if you have heart disease. Here are some therapies to help protect your heart.
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology jointly released guidelines on secondary prevention for people with cardiovascular disease. Their recommendations reflect data gleaned from large scale clinical trials that have identified which preventive therapies work best. Check to see which advice you are already using correctly, and which you may want to discuss with your doctor.
There are many options to help you quit smoking. Strategies that may work for you include:
A combination of therapies is generally more effective in helping people quit.
Remember that high blood pressure does not have symptoms, so you will not know you have it or if it changes. Consider buying a reliable home monitoring device so you can check your blood pressure on a regular basis.
You should have a blood test called a fasting lipid profile. Desirable ranges of lipid levels are:
Your doctor will evaluate your lipid levels and help you determine what is desirable for you.
Physical activity includes both aerobics and weight training:
Have a waist measurement and body mass index (BMI) calculation.
If your weight is not in the target range, start weight management and medically supervised physical activity programs.
If you have diabetes:
Ask your doctor to evaluate your need for preventive drugs.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada
Antman EM, Hand M, Armstrong PW, et al. 2007 Focused update of the ACC/AHA 2004 guidelines for the management of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2008;117(2):296-329.
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Smith S, Allen J, Blair S, et al. AHA/ACC guidelines for secondary prevention for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: 2006 update. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006;47(10):2130-2139.
Smith S, Blair S, Bonow R et al. AHA/ACC guidelines for preventing heart attack and death in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: 2001 update. Circulation. 2001;104(13):1577-1579.
Tobacco use. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114788/Tobacco-use. Updated January 17, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2017.
Treatment for tobacco use. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 27, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 1/31/2014
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