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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
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 01/29/2014