For many people, coronary artery disease treatment improves blood flow through what was the blocked coronary artery. As a result, you should have less chest pain and a greater capacity for exercise.
Although stents and bypass surgery can reopen arteries and help keep them open, these treatments can’t stop atherosclerosis and are not a cure for coronary artery disease. The best way to maintain good results after stenting is to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle. These lifestyle changes can help you prevent or slow the progression of coronary artery disease.
Here are some things you can do right away:
- Maintain a healthy weight – Reduce your calorie intake and get more exercise.
- Stop smoking – Nicotine constricts blood vessels and forces your heart to work harder. Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in your blood and damages the lining of your blood vessels. If you smoke, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of a heart attack.
- Control your blood pressure – Check your blood pressure regularly. Take medication to control your blood pressure if your doctor tells you to.
- Control your cholesterol – Have your cholesterol checked regularly. Eat fewer high-cholesterol foods, and take cholesterol-lowering medication if needed.
- Keep diabetes under control – If you have diabetes, carefully controlling your blood sugar level can help slow the progression of coronary artery disease.
- Get moving – Exercise helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. With your doctor's okay, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
- Eat healthy foods – A heart-healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium – can help you control your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Reducing the fat and cholesterol in your diet will make you less likely to develop additional blockages in your arteries. One or two servings of fish a week can also help protect your heart.
- Manage stress – Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy techniques for managing stress, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
Information for Caregivers
If you live with a patient who is recovering from therapy, it is important to keep in mind that even the smallest considerations go a long way toward making their recovery easier.
Helping Out After the Procedure
Often, even the smallest considerations go a long way to make recovery easier:
- Help out with chores and errands during recovery
- Remind your loved one to take their prescribed medications according to doctor’s instructions
- Help get medications refilled
- Help remember doctor appointments and doctor instructions
- Keep notes about insurance and other paperwork
- Listen to concerns and frustrations and offer support
- Encourage the patient to join a support group to share experiences and thoughts with others in the same situation. (Hospitals and community centers often have support groups.)
Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes Together
- Exercise together
- Quit smoking together
- Help plan and prepare heart-healthy meals
- Take steps to reduce and better manage stress
Remember that the patient with coronary artery disease is in charge of his or her own recovery. Ask your friend or family member what kind of assistance would be most helpful to him or her.
Always remember that your first job is taking care of yourself. You will not be able to be an effective caregiver unless you are healthy yourself!