Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused due to blockage of arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles. The arteries become narrowed due to cholesterol and plaque within the walls. The blood flow through the arteries to the heart muscle is reduced in CAD. It can lead to angina pain (chest pain), a heart attack (myocardial infarction), weakness in the heart (heart failure) or changes in the normal heart rhythm.
Prognosis of coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease has become a leading cause of death and health problems both in men and women. Depending on the severity of blockage of the artery, the symptoms may vary from angina pain (chest pain), a heart attack (myocardial infarction) to sudden cardiac arrest and death.
Advances in management of heart attack have significantly improved the prognosis of myocardial infarction. Many people with heart attack now survive and can lead a fairly normal life, but many people still die and therefore, it is important to prevent CAD.
Factors to improve prognosis of coronary artery disease
Prognosis or outcome of a person with coronary artery disease depends on many factors such as the severity of artery blockage, functioning of heart muscle and how many vessels are involved with blockages. Long-term prognosis or outlook of the disease, however, is significantly influenced by lifestyle of the patient, management of associated co-morbid conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol), adherence to medications and follow-up with the health care provider.
- Weight reduction: If you are obese or overweight, try to reduce and maintain a healthy body weight (or body mass index in the recommended range of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2). Being obese increases the workload of the heart and the risk of other problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and low good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
- Eat healthy: Eating healthy improves your overall fitness and heart health. According to experts on nutrition, a healthy diet includes 6-8 servings of bread, cereal or rice; 2-4 servings of fresh fruit; 3-5 servings of fresh or frozen vegetables; 2-3 servings of nonfat milk, yogurt or cheese; and 2-3 servings of lean meat, poultry, fish or dry beans. Limit intake of fats in every meal. A heart healthy diet should avoid processed foods, food high in fats (saturated and total fat) and salt (reduce dietary intake of sodium).
- Staying physically active: Exercising regularly has many benefits for the heart. It lowers the blood pressure, increases the level of good cholesterol (HDL) and controls weight. Any exercise (walking, swimming, biking or aerobics) for at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week is considered good enough to improve cardiovascular health.
- Limit consumption of alcohol and quit smoking: These can be considered as very important measures to reduce your risk and improve the prognosis of coronary artery disease.
- Medications and management of associated diseases: Controlling associated conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and stress and taking all your medications as prescribed can also reduce the risk of CAD and improve the prognosis.
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