Key Patient Messages: Chronic Coronary Disease Guideline

Published: July 20, 2023

Working with your healthcare team:

  • Prioritize your medical appointments – A critical part of maintaining heart health is consistent visits to a healthcare practitioner and the care team. As part of your regular visits, data are obtained to track your health. This includes discussion on your diet, physical activity, cardiac symptoms, medications, blood pressure measurement, and regular blood work to check things like cholesterol levels.
  • Cholesterol lowering medication and finding the right one for you – Work with your healthcare practitioner to lower your cholesterol by finding a statin that works best for you and take it consistently. The 2023 Chronic Coronary Disease Guideline emphasizes statins as a first line medication in cholesterol management to prevent heart events in patients with CCD. Although many patients may not tolerate or are reluctant to take this type of medication, it’s important to know there are many different options for you to try.
  • Monitor your blood pressure – Monitor and track your blood pressure regularly. It is one of the most important things you can do for your cardiovascular health. Keep a blood pressure log. Many home blood pressure machines will do this for you. Share these with your healthcare team. You can also monitor your sodium intake, which may affect your blood pressure. Talk to your care team to make sure you are on the best medication to manage your blood pressure every time you meet with them.
  • Cardiac Rehab - do it! – Cardiac rehabilitation is an excellent way to jump start the recovery process. By working with a physical therapist, you can strengthen your heart and learn about exercises you can continue to do at home once the program ends. Heart disease also takes a mental toll on most patients, and getting out to do something positive for your body can be mentally uplifting at a time when heart patients need it most.
  • Clinician recommended supplements only – Talk to your healthcare practitioner if you take or are planning to an over-the-counter supplement. There are several products on the market that claim they have a positive effect on heart health, for example, fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, but currently supplements are not recommended for heart health.
  • Build and engage your own team – A multidisciplinary team will ensure you have the best treatment outcomes and feel empowered to make decisions about your health. This team could include your cardiologist, primary care clinician, nurse, dietitian, rehabilitation specialist, pharmacist, social worker, behavioral health specialist, and family and friends. If high costs or distance makes it difficult to access a health professional, consider telehealth services to build your team. Although a team is ideal for optimal care, cardiologist and primary care physicians are vital.

 

Supporting your heart health when you have CCD:

  • Move every day – Maintaining an active lifestyle plays an important role for heart health. Staying active does not mean “training” for sporting events. It just means that a sedentary lifestyle should be avoided. Here are some physical activities to get you started: gardening, leisurely bike rides or walking routines. Tracking your activity through devices and apps on smartphones and watches may assist you to move towards your movement goals.
  • Eat for heart health – A healthy diet is an absolute necessity for good heart health. Following the Mediterranean Diet is a good example of healthy eating which includes eating salads, fish, fruits and vegetable, and avoiding the obvious offenders such as most process foods (potato chips, manufactured baked goods, foods high in artificial trans fats) and foods fried in fat (fried chicken, bacon, french fries). Establishing a healthy diet can be somewhat confusing, especially for heart patients trying to adapt a new lifestyle. Consulting a nutritionist or dietitian can help.
  • Manage Stress – Stress contributes to heart disease, so any stress reduction is beneficial. Limiting worries to only those things that can be personally controlled can help. Finding what works to reduce your stress level is important. Here are some options to consider: exercise, socializing, gratitude practice, breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, mindfulness, listening to music, stress reducing apps, seeking out support and getting enough sleep.
  • Learn how to stop smoking – There are great resources and support available for those who want to learn more about how to stop smoking. Whether this is your first attempt at quitting, or you’ve tried many times before, it’s important to remember there are several ways to stop smoking and to find the approach that works best for you. The harmful effects from smoking are talked about often, but avoiding vaping is also important to your heart health.
  • New treatments & medications – For those recently diagnosed with heart disease, take some comfort in the treatments that are available today. Technology for treating heart disease keeps getting better and better with new medications and procedures.

Citation


Virani SS, Newby LK, Arnold SV, Bittner V, Brewer LC, Demeter SH, Dixon DL, Fearon WF, Hess B, Johnson HM, Kazi DS, Kolte D, Kumbhani DJ, LoFaso J, Mahtta D, Mark DB, Minissian M, Navar AM, Patel AR, Piano MR, Rodriguez F, Talbot AW, Taqueti VR, Thomas RJ, van Diepen S, Wiggins B, Williams MS. 2023 AHA/ACC/ACCP/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline for the management of patients with chronic coronary disease: a report of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Joint Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines [published online ahead of print July 20, 2023]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001168

Read the American Heart Assocition Journals' Centennial Collection --- A Tribute to the AHA's 100th Anniversary https://www.ahajournals.org/centennial