Reducing Risks When You Have Heart Disease
People with heart disease are at increased risk for suffering heart attacks or sudden cardiac death. But there is evidence that risk factor modification can help people with coronary artery disease (CAD). Taking steps like lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol can improve survival and quality of life if you have heart disease. Here are some therapies to help protect your heart.
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology jointly released guidelines on secondary prevention for patients with cardiovascular disease. Their recommendations reflect data gleaned from large scale clinical trials that have identified which preventive therapies work best. Check to see which advice you are already using correctly, and which you may want to discuss with your doctor.
There are many options to help you quit smoking. Strategies that may work for you include:
All patients should have a blood test called a fasting lipid profile. Desirable ranges of lipid levels are:
Your doctor will evaluate your lipid levels and help you determine what is desirable for you.
With approval from your doctor:
Have a waist measurement and body mass index (BMI) calculation.
If your weight is not in the target range, start weight management and medically supervised physical activity programs.
If you have diabetes:
Ask your doctor to evaluate your need for preventive drugs.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations for risk factor management in coronary artery disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated August 16, 2011. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Antman EM, Hand M, Armstrong PW, et al. 2007 Focused update of the ACC/AHA 2004 guidelines for the management of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2008;117(2):296-329.
Coronary artery disease: recommendations. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated May 9, 2012. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Executive summary of the third report of the National Education Program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (adult treatment panel III). JAMA. 2001;285:2486-2497.
Smith S, Allen J, Blair S, et al. AHA/ACC guidelines for secondary prevention for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: 2006 update. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006;47;2130-2139.
Smith S, Blair S, Bonow R et al. AHA/ACC guidelines for preventing heart attack and death in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: 2001 update. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/104/13/1577. Published 2001. Accessed July 6, 2009.
Secondary prevention of coronary heart disease: what works and what doesn't. Family Practice Recertification. October 2001.
Last reviewed May 2012 by Brian Randall, MD