Get answers to your heart disease prevention questions.
Atherosclerosis; Arteriosclerosis; Plaque buildup - arteries
To help prevent hardening of the arteries, make the following lifestyle changes:
Quit smoking -- this is the single most important change you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Get your blood pressure checked every 1 - 2 years before age 50 and yearly after age 50. Have your blood pressure checked more often if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or you have had a stroke. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your blood pressure checked.
If your blood pressure is high, it is important for you to lower it and keep it under control.
Your doctor may want you to take medicine for high cholesterol levels if lifestyle changes do not work. This will depend on:
Your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or another drug called clopidogrel (Plavix) to help prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries. These medicines are called antiplatelet drugs. DO NOT take aspirin without first talking to your doctor.
Hardening of the arteries cannot be reversed or turned back once it has occurred. However, lifestyle changes and treating high cholesterol levels can prevent or slow the process from becoming worse.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are at risk for atherosclerosis, especially if you have symptoms.
Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise plan, especially if you have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or you have ever had a heart attack.
Gennest J, Libby P. Lipoprotein disorders and cardiovascular disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 47.
Libby P. The vascular biology of atherosclerosis. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 43.
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