• After a Heart Procedure: Lifestyle Changes for People With Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)


    It Can Be Frightening to Find Out You Have Coronary Artery Disease

    After angioplasty or bypass surgery, some people are so relieved to be free of chest pain, they think they're cured. But the truth is, those procedures are just the beginning of a whole new, healthier way of life.

    Of course, it's important that you take all of your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Two types of medicines are especially important if you have had a stent placed: aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Effient), or ticagrelor (Brilinta). These medicines help to prevent tiny clots from forming inside your stent. Only your cardiologist should tell you to stop taking these medications.

    It's also important that you examine your risk factors, identify problem areas, and make wise lifestyle choices that will help your heart stay strong and healthy for many years to come.

    If you need help to stay on track, don't hesitate to ask. Talk with your doctor, get advice from a nutritionist or exercise specialist, join a support group such as Mended Hearts or WomenHeart, reach out to friends and family. Living a healthy life is a long and satisfying journey - one that starts with a single step.

    Important Priorities for Your New Life

    • Stop smoking. It's not easy to stop smoking, but it's essential. Smoking is toxic to your heart and blood vessels.
    • Eat a healthy diet. A diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar - and with just enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight - will help you to control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and weight. And it's healthy for the whole family!
    • Exercise. Studies have shown that you can improve your heart health by exercising at a moderate intensity just 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Be to check with your doctor to find out what level of exercise is best for you.
    • Stress. Anger, depression and anxiety have all been linked to heart disease. If you have difficulty with any of these emotions, finding ways to restore your sense of inner peace will not only make you happier, it will keep your heart and blood vessels healthier.