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.
lifestyle changes can delay and maybe even reverse heart disease. Quitting
smoking, eating a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet, and getting regular
exercise are the most important steps you can take to keep your disease from
getting worse. For more information, see:
- Interactive Tool: Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?
- Heart Disease: Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet.
- Heart Disease: Exercising for a Healthy Heart.
- Comparing Heart-Healthy Diets(What is a PDF document?).
For more information on how to make healthy lifestyle
changes, see the Prevention section of this topic.
Most people are able to
control angina (chest pain or discomfort) by taking medicines as prescribed and
nitroglycerin when needed. To learn more, see the topic
Quick Tips: Taking Charge of Your Angina.
Dealing with depression and stress
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, they 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
Stress and anger can also hurt your heart.
They might make your symptoms worse. Try different ways to reduce stress such as exercise, deep breathing, meditation, or
yoga. For more tips on how to manage stress, see:
- Positive Thinking With Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Support can help
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.
cardiac rehabilitation program can also provide
support. The rehab team can help you make new, healthy habits, such as eating
right and getting more exercise. For more information, see the topic
One Man's Story:
"It's so easy for cardiac
patients to put weight on. And it's so hard to get it off. You need to walk
every day or the weight comes right back. I couldn't do any of it without my
support groups. The camaraderie of being together and working out together
makes such a big difference. We take care of each other."-Alan
Read more about Alan and how he learned to cope after a heart attack.