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Limiting Risk for People with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary Artery DiseaseCoronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease.  It affects more than 13 million Americans. 

What is Coronary Artery Disease?
CAD happens when LDL or “the bad” cholesterol builds up in your arteries forming a plaque.  This is also known as atherosclerosis.  The buildup of plaque leads the arteries to become narrowed and blocked which restricts blood flow to the heart.  Without enough blood flow to the heart, the heart becomes deprived of nutrients and oxygen. 

What are the Symptoms of CAD?
At first there are no symptoms to CAD.  When the plaque gets big enough that it begins to restrict blood flow, you may begin to feel chest pain, shortness of breath, and tired.  If the plaque ruptures, it may cause a blood clot to the heart.  This is also known as a myocardial infarction or more commonly, a heart attack.  A heart attack can prevent oxygen from reaching the heart and damage the heart muscles, perhaps permanently.

Limiting Risk for People with CAD
You can take steps to reduce your risk if you have CAD:

• Adopt a healthy lifestyle 
This includes quitting smoking, if you currently smoke, eating a low fat diet, keeping your blood pressure in check, keeping your blood sugars in control if you have diabetes, and exercising.  Low fat, low salt, and low cholesterol foods are recommended.   

• Take your medications as prescribed daily
Your doctor may have you on medications to reduce your risk.  Take your medications as prescribed every day, trying to limit the number of missed doses. Use a pill box or an alarm if you have trouble remembering to take your medications.  

• Follow up with your Healthcare team regularly
Healthcare team regularly so that your condition can be monitored. They can help you reduce risk factors and follow important laboratory measures.

(December, 2012)