Diagnosed With Coronary Artery Disease? 3 Lifestyle Changes To Make

Two weeks after undergoing a routine physical at your health clinic, you received a dreaded phone call.  During a conversation with your physician, you were diagnosed with coronary artery disease.  If this scenario sounds familiar, you should consider adopting the following 3 important lifestyle changes.

Quit Smoking

If you've recently been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you may not yet grasp how serious this condition is.  This type of cardiovascular disease occurs when the coronary arteries become injured or diseased over time.  Your coronary arteries are vital blood vessels that provide your heart with necessary oxygen, nutrients, and blood flow.

The two primary causes of coronary artery disease are inflammation and the build-up of cholesterol in your arteries.  If coronary artery disease isn't treated, you may eventually:

  • Experience difficulty breathing

  • Experience chest pain

  • Suffer a heart attack

One of the best ways to prevent one or more of the frightening symptoms of prolonged coronary heart disease is to quit smoking now.  Smoking worsens this type of heart disease due to:

  • Carbon monoxide's tendency to decrease oxygen levels in your blood and cause injury to the coating of your blood vessels

  • Nicotine's affinity for forcing your heart to work overtime and constricting your blood vessels

Eat Healthy

Besides quitting smoking, changing your diet is another effective way to treat coronary artery disease.  Medical professionals agree that a heart healthy diet should not consist of much cholesterol boosting saturated fat.  This type of fat is abundant in:

  • Beef products

  • Sausage

  • Whole milk

  • Ice cream

  • Fried foods

  • Processed foods

In addition to limiting saturated fat, a heart healthy diet consists of foods high in soluble fiber.  This type of fiber keeps heart damaging cholesterol from being absorbed by your digestive system.  Foods that are particularly high in soluble fiber include:

  • Whole grain products like oatmeal

  • Legumes including lima beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans

  • Fruits such as apples, peaches pears, and bananas

While soluble fiber is beneficial to heart health, omega-3 fatty acids are also important.  These acids found naturally in fish are believed to:

  • Battle inflammation

  • Prevent blood clotting of the heart

  • Prevent heart attacks

Many health professionals advise patients diagnosed with coronary heart disease to eat at least 2 servings of fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids every week.  Salmon, trout, and tuna include high amounts of this beneficial fatty acid.

 Control Stress

Medical experts believe that poorly managed stress plays a major role in suffering a heart attack as a result of coronary artery disease.  In fact, an occurrence that causes major emotional distraught is thought to be the number one cause of heart attacks.  Events that involve anger are particularly dangerous to the heart. 

Some proven ways to manage stress include:  

  • Being social – Developing new friendships is often a great way to reduce stress.  If you're a shy person, try to get out of your comfort zone and put forth the effort to meet new people.

  • Engaging in physical activity – Some medical professionals feel that 5 days of 30 minute exercise will relieve stress and improve heart health.  If you don't have a gym membership, a quick walk around your block will more than suffice.  Often, exercising with a friend will keep you accountable and make your experience more enjoyable.

  • Relaxing – One of the most effective ways to control stress is by getting the proper amount of sleep each night.  Also, don't hesitate to slow down and take a break during the day when you become tired.  Listening to music and meditating help some people relax.

While a diagnosis of coronary heart disease is serious, it doesn't have to be a death sentence.  By adopting the aforementioned 3 lifestyle changes, you should be able to better control this type of heart disease.  To learn more about the benefits of these lifestyle behaviors, make an appointment with your trusted cardiologist today.