A heart disease treatment plan is typically the same for both men and women and includes such things as lifestyle changes, medicine, surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation.
Heart Disease Treatment Plan
Lifestyle changes are a key component to treating and preventing future heart attacks. The most important lifestyle change is to quit smoking, which can harden arteries and raise your risk for heart disease.
A healthy, balanced diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, legumes (beans, lentils), and seeds. Vegetables should fill half your dinner plate and protein should be eaten with every meal. Watch portion sizes; eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Avoid processed foods high in sugar or salt and sugary drinks. Too much sugar can raise your risk of diabetes and too much salt can raise your risk of high blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation; women should not have more than one alcoholic drink per day. One drink per day can lower your risk of heart disease by raising your HDL cholesterol level.
Physical activity for 30-60 minutes, 3-5 days per week is a way to help lower your risk of heart disease by decreasing bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight. Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease; your goal should be to have a BMI of 25 or less and a waist circumference of 35 inches or less.
Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise plan; ask for a physical assessment of your current fitness level and capabilities.
Heart attacks can be triggered by anger or stress. Learning how to manage stress and relax are important tools in maintaining your health. Depression can triple your risk for heart disease; talk to your primary care physician if you are feeling depressed or anxious for more than two weeks straight.
When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, medicine is prescribed to help:
- Reduce your heart’s workload and relieve heart disease symptoms
- Decrease your chance of having a heart attack or dying suddenly
- Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, and other risk factors
- Prevent blood clots
- Prevent or delay the need for surgery
When lifestyle changes and medicine is not enough, you may need surgery such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure that opens blocked or narrowed coronary arteries by compressing plaque against the artery walls then placing a small mesh tube called a stent to hold the artery open. During CABG, a surgeon removes arteries or veins from other areas in your body and uses them to go around narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.
Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program that can improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. Cardiac rehab aims to teach people to improve their lifestyle through exercise and diet and gain an understanding of heart disease.
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