Atherosclerosis Heart Disease Be Prevented or Delayed?
Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay atherosclerosis and its related diseases. Your risk of atherosclerosis increases with the number of risk factors you have.
One step you can take is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Following a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are two programs that promote healthy eating.
If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan. Controlling your weight helps you control atherosclerosis risk factors.
Try to do physical activity regularly. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. Talk to your doctor about what types of activity are safe for you.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels and raise your risk for atherosclerosis. Talk to your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.
Know your family history of atherosclerosis. If you or someone in your family has an atherosclerosis-related disease, be sure to tell your doctor.
If lifestyle changes aren't enough, you also may need medicines to control your atherosclerosis risk factors. Take all of your medicines as prescribed.
For more information on lifestyle changes and medicines, go to “How Is Atherosclerosis Treated?”
Living With Atherosclerosis Heart Disease
Better treatments have reduced the number of deaths from atherosclerosis-related diseases. These treatments also have improved the quality of life for people who have these diseases.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help you prevent or delay atherosclerosis and the problems it can cause. This, along with ongoing medical care, can help you avoid the problems of atherosclerosis and live a long, healthy life.
Researchers continue to look for ways to improve the health of people who have atherosclerosis or may develop it.
Ongoing Care for Atherosclerosis Heart Disease
If you have atherosclerosis, work closely with your doctor and other health care providers to avoid serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke.
Your doctor will let you know how often you should schedule office visits or blood tests. Be sure to let your doctor know if you develop new symptoms or if your symptoms worsen.
Emotional Issues and Support
Having an atherosclerosis-related disease may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. It's important to talk about how you feel with your doctor. Talking to a professional counselor also can help. If you're feeling very depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.
Community resources are available to help you learn more about atherosclerosis. Contact your local public health departments, hospitals, and local chapters of national health organizations to learn more about available resources in your area.
Talk about your lifestyle changes with your family and friends—whoever can provide support or needs to understand why you're changing your habits.
Family and friends may be able to help you make lifestyle changes. For example, they can help you plan healthier meals. Because atherosclerosis tends to run in families, your lifestyle changes may help many of your family members too.