It's important to know if your family's medical history includes problems related to atherosclerosis and heart disease. If you or someone in your family has coronary heart disease, be sure to tell your doctor. Make sure everyone in your family is getting enough exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle can help you reduce the risk of atherosclerosis or minimize its damage. A healthy lifestyle includes:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting (or not starting) smoking
- Minimizing stress.
Medications may be needed in the prevention of atherosclerosis in addition to making lifestyle changes. Some medications decrease the workload on your heart and relieve your atherosclerosis symptoms. Others decrease your chance of having a heart attack or sudden death, and prevent or delay the need for a special procedure (angioplasty or bypass surgery). By controlling your risk factors with lifestyle changes and medications, you may prevent or slow the development of atherosclerosis.
Because of advances in medicine and technology, people with atherosclerosis are living longer, more productive lives than ever before. But atherosclerosis prevention is still the best weapon in the fight against this condition.
As with anything in life, there are no guarantees. You could do all the right things and still develop atherosclerosis because there are so many factors involved. But by living a healthier life, you could delay atherosclerosis for years or minimize its damage. Whether you are already healthy, are at high risk for atherosclerosis, or have survived a heart attack or stroke, the advice to protect your body from the effects of atherosclerosis is the same.