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You can reduce your risk of angina and CAD by making certain lifestyle changes. These include:

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

Smoking damages your blood vessels, reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, and forces your heart to work harder. Discuss with your doctor the best way to help you quit smoking.

Alcohol should be limited to no more then 1 to 2 ounces a day. In this quantity, alcohol may have a beneficial effect on raising your good cholesterol (HDL).

Diets that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol increase your risk of CAD. Saturated fat and cholesterol are found in animal products, most dairy products (such as milk, cream, and cheese), lard, and palm and coconut oils, among other foods. Trans fat is found in margarine and vegetable shortening, as well as foods containing these products. 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.

Taking a low-dose aspirin every day may help to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Most people are able to tolerate aspirin. But, in rare cases, even small amounts can lead to serious bleeding, particularly from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Also, aspirin may not work as well when combined with other pain medicines. Talk to your doctor about whether daily aspirin therapy is right for you.

Another option is to take statin drugs. Statins are used to treat high cholesterol. But, some statins can be used even if you do not have cholesterol problems. If you are a man over age 50 or a women over age 60 with certain risk factors (eg, elevated C-reactive protein, high blood pressure, low HDL "good" cholesterol, smoking), your doctor may recommend that you take rosuvastatin to reduce your risk of heart disease.

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.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most critical risk factors for angina and coronary artery disease. Hypertension causes the heart muscles 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, which involves diet, weight and exercise controls, and possibly medicine.

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

Emotional stress may bring on anginal pain. Think about what you can do in your life to cut down on stressful activities and situations. Consider learning meditation, progressive relaxation, or other techniques that you can use when you feel stressed. Try to work in an afternoon nap, since rest seems to be protective against both angina and stress.

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

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

References:

American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/.

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/.

Daily aspirin therapy. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/daily-aspirin-therapy/HB00073/NSECTIONGROUP=2. Updated August 2008. Accessed February 12, 2010.

Heart attack. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 2009. Accessed February 12, 2010.

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.

12/21/2006 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Thavendiranathan P, Bagai A, Brookhart MA, Choudhry NK. Primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases with statin therapy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:2307-2313.

12/4/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Ebbing M, Bonaa KH, Nygard O, et al. Cancer incidence and mortality after treatment with folic acid and vitamin B12. JAMA. 2009;302(19):2119-21126.

2/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: FDA approves new indication for Crestor. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm200128.htm. Published February 9, 2010. Accessed February 12, 2010.

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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