Coronary Artery Disease
Living With Heart Disease
A diagnosis of coronary artery disease can be hard to accept and understand. If you don't have symptoms, it may be especially hard to recognize that heart disease is serious and can lead to other health problems.
It's important to talk with your doctor to learn about the disease and what you can do to help manage it and prevent it from getting worse.
Have healthy habits
Making healthy lifestyle changes can delay and maybe even reverse heart disease. Quitting smoking, eating a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet, getting regular exercise, and staying at a healthy weight are important steps you can take to keep your disease from getting worse.
- Reference Interactive Tool: Are You Ready to Quit Smoking? Reference
- Reference Reference Heart Disease: Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
- Reference Reference Heart Disease: Exercising for a Healthy Heart
- Reference Weight Management
To learn more, see Reference Prevention.
Take control of your health
- Do cardiac rehab. Your doctor may suggest that you attend a Reference cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program. In cardiac rehab, you will get education and support that help you build new, healthy habits, such as eating right and getting more exercise
- Control angina. Most people are able to control angina (including chest pain or discomfort) by taking medicines as prescribed and nitroglycerin when needed. To learn more, see the topic Reference Quick Tips: Taking Charge of Your Angina.
- Manage stress and anger. Stress and anger can also Reference hurt your heart. They might make your symptoms worse. Try different Reference ways to reduce stress such as exercise, deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
Get help for depression
Reference Depression and heart disease are linked. People with heart disease are more likely to get depressed. And if a person has both depression and heart disease, he or she may not stay as healthy as possible. This can make depression and heart disease worse.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your doctor. Take this short quiz to check your symptoms: Reference Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed? Reference For more information, see the topic Reference Depression.
Whether you are recovering from a heart attack or changing your lifestyle so you can avoid one, emotional support from friends and family is important. Think about joining a heart disease support group. Ask your doctor about the types of support that are available where you live. Meeting other people with the same problems can help you know you're not alone.
Reference Family and friends can also offer practical help, such as help around the house or cooking meals.
Take other steps to stay healthy
It's also important to:
- Take your medicines exactly as directed. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
- Keep your blood sugar in your target range if you have diabetes.
- Get a flu vaccine every year.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if you drink. This means having 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
- Seek help for sleep problems. Your doctor may want to check for Reference sleep apnea, a common sleep problem in people who have heart disease.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 9, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Reference Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
- Health Tools
- What Increases Your Risk
- When to Call a Doctor
- Exams and Tests
- Treatment Overview
- What Happens
- Living With Heart Disease
- Angioplasty and Other Treatment
- End-of-Life Decisions
- Other Places To Get Help
- Related Information