What can I do to lower my risk of CAD?
- Don't smoke. Nicotine raises your blood pressure because it causes your body to release adrenaline, which makes your blood vessels constrict and your heart beat faster. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you make a plan to quit.
- Control your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor can suggest ways to lower it. If you're taking medicine for high blood pressure, be sure to take it just the way your doctor tells you to.
- Exercise. Regular exercise can make your heart stronger and reduce your risk of heart disease. Exercise can also help if you have high blood pressure. Before you start any new exercise program, talk to your doctor about the right kind of exercise for you.
- Ask your doctor about taking a low dose of aspirin each day. Aspirin helps prevent CAD, but taking it also has some risks.
- Ask your doctor about taking vitamin supplements. While foods that are rich in vitamin E and beta-carotene are very healthy and help reduce cardiovascular risk, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend against taking vitamin E or beta-carotene supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Even though a diet rich in healthy foods reduces cardiovascular risk, there is no clear evidence that taking multivitamins does the same thing.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and whole grains. Try to avoid processed foods, white flour, sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. The Mediterranean Diet is also very good for heart health. If you have questions, talk to your doctor about how to make heart-healthy changes to your diet.
How do I know lifestyle changes are helping?
Rest assured that these lifestyle changes will lower your CAD risk, even if you don’t feel any different. Your body will also need time to respond to the changes you've made. Your doctor will watch your progress. For example, if your cholesterol level hasn't improved after you've made changes for a few months, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your cholesterol. However, you will still need to keep up the healthy lifestyle changes you've started to help the medicine work.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff