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Overcoming Cardiovascular Disease

If you've been diagnosed with stroke, heart attack, angina or PAD, you may be in shock. But the right medical care can prevent future problems.

Sticking to It continued...

Don't ignore symptoms of depression. It won't only make you feel terrible. Depression can worsen conditions like high blood pressure. It also raises the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.

  • Get your family involved. You can't change your way of life on your own. You need to have the support of your family.

"I really try to get the whole family involved, and will often invite a patient's partner into the clinic," says Champion. "Changing your lifestyle has got to be a team effort. Everyone may need to make some changes. For instance, you can't tell dad to quit smoking if mom is still smoking."

  • Be careful of alternative treatments. "I understand why people want to 'go natural' in their treatment," says Champion. "I think a multivitamin is perfectly reasonable. But don't go overboard. Why on earth would you turn to a 16-year-old behind the checkout counter at a health food store for advice about treating your arteries?" Instead, always check with your doctor before trying any herb or supplement. Some alternative treatments can cause risky interactions with standard medicines.

Finally, don't despair. "A lot of patients will have a strong family history of cardiovascular disease and they'll dwell on it," says Champion. "Some want to just give up. But I remind them that while they can't change their genes, there are so many other things that they can change."

He urges people to look at the positives. "This is a much better disease to have now than it was 15 or 20 years ago," Champion tells WebMD. "We have new medications and we know how to use old medications better. You now have a chance to make some changes in your life that can alter the whole course of this disease."

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