Answered by: Dr Sri Viknarajan
If I am on medication to treat heart disease, does that mean I am no longer at risk of a heart attack?
Hi, thank you for your question. There are many types of medications that are used to treat heart disease. Blood-thinning medications like aspirin, and antiplatelet medications prevent formation of blood clots in the arteries. Anticoagulant medications such as warfarin prevent formation of blood clots and treat pre-existing blood clots. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers dilate the blood vessels, reduce the workload of the heart and lower your blood pressure.
Beta blockers slow down the heart rate and lower the blood pressure. Statins lower cholesterol levels and help to reabsorb cholesterol from cholesterol deposits on artery walls. Nitrates widen blood vessels and improve blood flow to the heart. These medications indirectly reduce your risk of developing heart attack.
However, it does not mean that you are no longer at risk of developing one. You still have to practise a healthy lifestyle and take your medications as advised to keep your risk low. Therefore, you should make wise lifestyle choices. First of all, eat a healthy diet. Consume a diet rich in wholegrain, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Limit your intake of food high in saturated fats and trans fat. For example, full-fat dairy products, red meat, margarine, cookies, cakes and deep-fried food. Cut down intake of salt and sugar. You should also exercise regularly. Some moderate-intensity exercises include brisk walking, swimming and riding a bicycle.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important as well. Aim to maintain your BMI at <25, waist measurement <40 inches (for men), <35 inches (for women). Next, quit smoking. You can use nicotine patches or chewing gums to help you quit smoking. Furthermore, it is important to learn to cope with stress and consume alcohol in moderation. Lastly, go for regular health screenings regularly.
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