Your Health

Reducing Your Risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

There are a variety of issues that can contribute to CAD and fortunately many of the risk factors can be managed or avoided. The more factors you control, the more you reduce your risk of CAD.

Aim for a Healthy Weight

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. Consider consulting with a dietitian who can help you with meal planning and portion sizing.

Quit Smoking

Chemicals in tobacco smoke contribute to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis . It also irritates the lining of the blood vessels which can cause further damage to the blood vessels.
Quitting smoking is the best way to put yourself on the right track. Talk with your doctor about tools and programs to help you quit . Secondhand smoke can be damaging as well.

Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Excess alcohol intake is also associated with an increased risk of CAD. If you drink alcohol, aim for moderation. Moderate alcohol intake means two drinks or less per day for men, and one drink or less per day for women. Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase the beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which may help reduce plaque build-up.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Your diet can have a significant impact on your "bad" and "good" cholesterol levels. Managing your cholesterol levels with a well-balanced diet can reduce your risk for CAD by reducing the amount of plaque build-up.
A well-balanced diet includes plenty of whole grains , fruits and vegetables , and nuts. Also consider substituting bad fats for good fats . This means eating more mono- or polyunsaturated fats like olive and canola oil, and less saturated and trans fats which can raise your bad cholesterol levels.
Foods to consider limiting or avoiding include:
  • High-fat processed meats, such as bologna, sausage, hot dogs
  • Solid fats, such as shortening, stick butter, or lard
  • Whole milk, cream, ice cream, and cheese
  • Baked goods that contain egg yolks and butter
  • Fried foods such as fried chicken, french fries, and potato chips
  • Fatty red meats or organ meats, such as liver
  • Saturated oils like coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil

Control Blood Glucose Levels If You have Diabetes

High blood glucose levels can cause damage to smaller blood vessels and contribute to atherosclerosis. Managing blood glucose levels can reduce the risk or delay onset of CAD for people with diabetes . If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to develop a plan to manage your blood glucose levels.

Maintain Normal Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major cause of CAD. Dietary changes, regular exercise, and medications can help you control your blood pressure. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, adhere to the treatment plan outlined by your doctor. Stay in contact with your medical team and have your blood pressure tested regularly.
Too much sodium has also been linked to high blood pressure. Aim for sodium levels less than 2,300 mg per day. Read food labels to find the hidden sodium in your diet in addition to limiting use of table salt.
The DASH diet is a plan designed to help reduce blood pressure.

Exercise Regularly

Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, using a stationary bike, or treadmill, can help reduce the risk of heart disease including CAD. Exercise will help strengthen the heart muscle, decrease the heart's workload, and lower blood pressure. It is recommended that you exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.

References

Cardiovascular disease prevention overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 17, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2014.

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

How can coronary heart disease be prevented or delayed? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cad/prevention.html. Updated August 23, 2012. Accessed January 29, 2014.

Intensive prevention key to fighting coronary artery disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://newsroom.heart.org/news/intensive-prevention-key-to-fighting-228048. Published May 16, 2006. Accessed January 29, 2014.

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: Thavendiranathan P, Bagai A, et al. 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: Ebbing M, Bonaa KH, 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: FDA approves new indication for Crestor. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm200128.htm. April 25, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2014.

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