I Have CAD: Now What

A coronary artery disease (CAD) diagnosis can be scary. Defined as an inflammatory condition that restricts blood and oxygen to the heart, CAD causes at least 1 million heart attacks per year throughout the US. Other symptoms can include acute chest pain, breathing problems, and nausea. The likelihood of developing artery issues depends on genetic and non-genetic factors, but some are manageable. High-risk patients can avoid developing symptoms by limiting nicotine use, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and exercising at least 30 minutes per day.

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No smoking, please

Medical consensus confirms that nicotine increases the likelihood of developing CAD. Smoking is not the only culprit. Experts highlight that breathing secondhand smoke can also increase a person’s risk for CAD. Many people see that disease progression stopped after cutting down on smoking or quitting completely.

Am I at risk?

Coronary artery disease happens when cholesterol-saturated plaque accumulates inside the arteries that direct blood to the heart. Known as atherosclerosis, reversing the damage to arteries requires significant and consistent lifestyle changes. Keeping an eye on fatty substances known as lipids in the bloodstream can help maintain the overall cholesterol profile, including LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels. People who carry excess belly fat have a higher risk of CAD. As a result, limiting excess weight can safeguard against unsafe cholesterol levels. Visiting a doctor to determine body mass index (BMI) can help effectively manage fat distribution.

Get a move on

Maintaining an active lifestyle can keep arteries open, limiting calcification that causes serious disturbances, such as heart attacks. Many doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise to keep the heart healthy and happy. Moderate physical activity, such as swimming and brisk walking, builds muscle strength while limiting stress on the body. More vigorous behavior such as running or cycling can provide additional benefits, depending on activity level and ability.

Reversing CAD

People with a documented family history of CAD or high cholesterol should begin taking preventative measures as soon as possible. Chronic health issues like coronary artery disease are best treated when caught early. Severe CAD can be managed by quitting smoking, keeping healthy cholesterol levels, and exercising at least 30 minutes per day. While fully reversing coronary artery disease is not clinically possible, one can drastically slow or stop calcification progression with preventative actions.