Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the number one cause of death in the U.S. – for both men and women. CAD is also the most common type of heart disease. But fortunately, with the right lifestyle, many cases of CAD can be prevented.
Coronary artery disease results from cholesterol (plaque) buildup inside the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This process of plaque buildup is known as atherosclerosis. As the plaque gradually gets thicker, the arteries narrow, resulting in less blood to the heart. Eventually, the artery can become completely blocked with plaque, resulting in angina or a heart attack.
But there is some good news about CAD. Even if you already have plaque buildup in your arteries, the following strategies can minimize your risk of complications from CAD. Your lifestyle plays an important role in your heart health — and preventing a serious heart condition. Take note of these tips for optimum heart health at any age:
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages and narrows your blood vessels, increasing your risk of CAD. It is difficult to quit, but the hard work is worth it. You don’t have to do it alone – there are free resources available to help you quit for good. Your heart, lungs, and entire body will thank you when you do.
- Take steps to lower your cholesterol. Your physician can talk with you about desirable levels and what you can do to improve your numbers. Regular blood tests for cholesterol will tell you if you need to lower your cholesterol, and your physician can discuss these results with you.
- Get your body moving. You don’t have to join a gym or be a die-hard athlete. Any activity is better than nothing. If you’re not active, try walking for just 10-15 minutes a day, working your way up to 30. This can have a powerful impact on your heart health. People who are moderately active are much less likely to die of a heart attack than those with low or no activity.
- Take small steps toward a healthier diet. It’s difficult to avoid all the foods we love, and you don’t have to cut out all of your favorites. But you should aim to substitute nutritious foods for “junk” food whenever possible. Instead of chips, try crunchy fresh veggies. Fresh fruit makes a nutritious, healthy dessert. Having these foods washed and cut up in the fridge makes them more accessible when you’re hungry.
- Make a plan to lose weight. If you’re overweight or obese, every pound you lose is one pound closer to a healthy weight. If you adopt daily physical activity and good nutrition as mentioned above, this will help you lose weight. Talk with your physician about a healthy weight loss plan to get you to your goal.
Although CAD is a dangerous killer, you have the power to lower your risk and live a longer, healthier life. Set manageable, realistic goals for yourself each day so you won’t be overwhelmed. Be proud of small victories and the steps you take each day to improve your heart health. Don’t get discouraged if you have setbacks; just move forward and keep working toward your goals.
Cardiovascular Care at CarePoint Health
The Cardiovascular Departments at Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital, and Hoboken University Medical Center offer comprehensive, state-of-the-art care for a wide range of heart conditions. Having an expert cardiologist on your side can help you manage your heart health before emergencies occur, giving you the best chance to lead a happy, healthy life.
For more information about our cardiovascular care, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.