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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 keep it from getting worse.

Lifestyle changes

  • Quit smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of future problems. When you quit, you quickly lower your risk of a heart attack.
  • Exercise. Start an exercise program (if your doctor says it's safe). Try walking, swimming, biking, or jogging for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. Any activity you enjoy will work, as long as it gets your heart rate up.
    actionset.gif Heart Disease: Exercising for a Healthy Heart
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. This can help you keep your disease from getting worse. A chart(What is a PDF document?) that compares heart-healthy diets can help you see what foods are suggested in each plan. Heart-healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish, and foods low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
    Heart-Healthy Eating
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being active and eating healthy foods can help you stay at a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to.
    Weight Management

Your doctor may suggest that you attend a 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.

Medicines

Medicines are an important part of your treatment.

Get help for depression

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: Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed? For more information, see the topic Depression.

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