Cardiovascular disease, commonly called "heart disease," is the common term for diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels and your heart's ability to work. Cholesterol testing and certain medications have been proven to help in managing heart disease.
The most common cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease, or the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart itself. It's the major reason people have heart attacks.
When a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts, this causes a stroke, which can damage the brain.
Together, heart disease and stroke are among the most widespread health problems facing the country today. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition to causing death, heart disease and stroke are common causes of disability.
Talk to your primary care doctor about what you can do to take care of yourself and reduce your risk of heart disease. And, if you do have it, it’s important to receive quality, evidence-based care to make sure you get the treatment you need and deserve.
What can patients do to help manage heart disease?
Heart disease is often preventable and treatable. Patients with heart disease need to take an active role in their health and health care. As with other chronic conditions, it’s important to learn the basics about your heart disease, find a primary care provider and get to know your health care team.
Always take medications as prescribed by your doctor. If you are having a problem with a medication, talk to your doctor before making any changes.
Work with your provider to make (and keep) a realistic eating and exercise plan. Make healthy lifestyle choices, like drinking in moderation and quitting smoking. Get regular blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings and know your goals.
Keep in touch with your health care team, including your primary care doctor and/or cardiologist, so they can regularly monitor your health. Ask about medications that are right for you and the best way to take them.
Visit Own Your Health to help you make informed health care decisions.
What should your doctor do?
Work with you to develop a regular care plan that includes:
- Blood pressure checks
- Checking LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) results
Your doctor should also discuss with you:
- Healthy eating and lifestyle choices.
- Medications that are right for you, including ACE inhibitor, beta blockers and statins.
- Whether daily aspirin regimen is right for you.
- If you have been in the hospital for a heart attack, how to prevent future blood clots and lower cholesterol, in addition to other medications.
Working as a team, you and your doctor can manage your heart disease, reduce your risk of complications and help you live as healthy as you can.