Coronary artery disease (CAD) develops when major blood vessels that supply your heart become damaged or diseased. It’s typically caused by cholesterol-containing deposits in your coronary arteries and inflammation.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with CAD, there are several steps you can take to manage your condition and stay healthy. I encourage all patients to see their physician on a regular basis for monitoring. This includes cholesterol testing every six months for patients at highest risk, as well as monitoring your blood pressure at home and keeping track of your readings so you can share them with your physician. If you are on medication for CAD or other conditions like diabetes, it’s important to keep a list of all your medications and take them as prescribed by your physician.
Aspirin is commonly used as a standard therapy. If you have had a recent stent or myocardial infarction, your physician may prescribe a second blood thinner, such as Plavix or Ticagrelor, which is often used to reduce the risk of blood clots forming.
Patients with CAD should maintain a blood pressure of less than 130/80, which is critical to manage your condition and keep your heart healthy. This is often achieved by taking medications such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers and beta blockers.
It’s also important to monitor your cholesterol and ensure that your LDL cholesterol is under 70. If your LDL is higher than 70, your physician may prescribe you medications such as statins, PSK9 inhibitor or Ezetamibe to help you lower your cholesterol.
Healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels aren’t achieved with medication alone – eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking all have a significant impact on your health. CAD patients should speak with their physician to determine a healthy diet and what level of exercise is appropriate based on their unique health needs.
For more information on CAD and Hoag’s diagnostic and treatment options available, please click here.
Ask the Clinician by Richard Blankenbaker, M.D.