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The following steps can help you manage CAD and angina:

Excess weight puts a strain on the heart muscle, which eventually can lead to angina and coronary artery disease. If you are overweight, adopt a sensible eating plan and exercise regularly to lose weight gradually, and then maintain your weight at the desired level.

Smoking damages your blood vessels and lung tissue, reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, and forces your heart to beat faster. Discuss with your doctor the best way to quit smoking.

Diets that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase your risk of CAD. Saturated fat and cholesterol are found in animal products, full-fat dairy products (such as milk, cream, and cheese), lard, and palm and coconut oils, among other foods. A registered dietitian can help you reduce saturated fats and cholesterol in your diet. Good dietary choices include fresh fruits and vegetable, as well as lean meats and fish—particularly fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.

Alcohol intake should be limited to no more then 1 to 2 drinks a day. Small amounts of alcohol in this range may have beneficial effects such as raising your good cholesterol (HDL).

People who have diabetes may reduce their risk of heart attack or other cardiac events if they maintain their blood glucose near normal levels. There are many other proven health benefits to maintaining tight control of blood glucose. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about ways to manage your blood sugar level.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most critical risk factors for angina and coronary artery disease. Hypertension causes the heart muscle to work harder. The increased strain on the heart can lead to heart failure. Discuss with your doctor the best way to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure. If weight and salt reduction, exercise, and stress management do not sufficiently reduce your blood pressure, medication may be needed.

For people who have not yet developed recognizable CAD, regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or using a stationary bike or treadmill, is recommended. Exercise can strengthen the heart muscle and lower blood pressure and is recommended in moderation (at least 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes). However, if you already have CAD, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

There are some common warning signs that may signal angina and CAD. Contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Chest pain of any kind
  • Shortness of breath out of proportion to exercise or exertion
  • Increased fatigue


The Homocysteine Studies Collaboration. Homocysteine and risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2002;288:2015-2022.

Libby P, Braunwald E. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2007.

Wilson P. Homocysteine and coronary heart disease. How great is the hazard? JAMA. 2002;288:2042-2043.

3/6/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/: Marti-Carvajal AJ, Lathyris D, Salanti G. Homocysteine lowering interventions for preventing cardiovascular events. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;1:CD006612.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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