Coronary Artery Disease

Prevention

As with a large percentage of medical problems, an individual has a great deal of control over whether he or she develops coronary heart disease. Individuals can help prevent coronary heart disease by:

1. Lowering blood cholesterol levels
2. Increasing the amount of HDL cholesterol in his or her blood
3. Attaining and maintaining fitness through aerobic exercise
4. Not smoking
5. Reducing high blood pressure
6. Managing stress

These actions are important for everyone, but particularly for those at increased risk due to a family history of heart disease and individuals with other medical problems.

People with close relatives that have experienced heart attacks at an early age (under 50) have a higher risk of the problem. People with medical conditions such as diabetes and extreme obesity are also at a much higher risk.

Studies over the last few years have reported that taking aspirin every day may decrease the risk of heart attacks in middle-age or older individuals. It is unclear at this time how much aspirin is needed to get this beneficial effect.

The use of aspirin should not replace the preventive lifestyles mentioned above. If you are considering taking aspirin to prevent heart attack, discuss the benefits and risks of the decision with your physician.


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