Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Modification
All patients with vascular disease resulting from atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) should be treated with an optimal medical program designed to prevent heart attack, stroke, and death. There are a number of lifestyle modifications and treatment of risk factors that can promote good overall cardiovascular health. At Mount Sinai, we recognize each patient is unique and tailor individual plans in lifestyle modification and medications to promote longevity and cardiovascular health for our patients.
- Exercise: Exercise has a number of benefits including weight loss, endorphin release ("happy" hormone in the brain), aerobic training for the heart, stress release, and improved sleep. As little as 30 minutes, three times a week, can improve heart health and overall well-being. Your health care provider can outline the right exercise program for you.
- Diet: A number of "fad" diets invade the media routinely – many offer short-term weight loss that is not sustained. We recommend a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, lean grains, and proteins. This mirrors the United States Department of Agriculture "MyPlate" , which has replaced the traditional food pyramid. It is not realistic to cut out all fatty foods or sugars, but maintaining a modest intake will have a large effect on your overall health.
- Avoid Tobacco: Tobacco wreaks havoc to the blood vessels throughout the body, allowing for the formation of sticky plaque and accelerating heart and vascular disease. One of the most important things you can do for your overall cardiovascular health is to stop tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe, and chewing tobacco products. The addictive properties of tobacco are well-recognized, and there are a number of agents (medicine and otherwise) now available to help stop tobacco. Your physician will be able to discuss which option may be best for you. It should be emphasized that this is the single most important lifestyle change. It has been shown that immediately after stopping, your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death decrease substantially.
- Blood Pressure Control: More than 65 million U.S. residents have high blood pressure (hypertension), and, because high blood pressure does not cause symptoms, it is known as the "Silent Killer." Longstanding suboptimal blood pressure control may result in kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and death. This kind of high blood pressure is the number one cause of kidney failure in African Americans. Treating blood pressure with appropriate medications will prevent these long-term effects on the blood vessels and organs in the body to promote longevity and health. While most patients will require medications (such as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARBs), reducing salt intake and exercising regularly has been shown to lower blood pressure as well.
- Cholesterol Control: Plaque build-up in the arteries of the body and heart is due to both diet and genetics. For some, diet modification alone may not be enough to reduce cholesterol or cardiovascular disease risk. A class of medications known as "statins" is very effective in treating high cholesterol, as well as improving health outcomes for patients with atherosclerosis. Each patient is different, and you should discuss with your physician which medication, at which dose, is right for you to reduce your overall cardiovascular disease risk.
- Antiplatelet Therapy: Platelets are small particles in the blood and assist in clot formation to stop bleeding. In some cases, this property is not helpful – for example, in the setting of unhealthy arteries or cholesterol plaque which leads to platelet pooling, clot formation, and blocked arteries. For patients with coronary or peripheral atherosclerosis, diabetes, stroke, or mini-stroke (TIA), antiplatelet therapy with aspirin or other agents can reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Each patient is different, and you should discuss with your physician which medication, at which dose, is right for you to promote longevity and cardiovascular health.
Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Vascular Interventions – Cardiac Cath Lab
1190 Fifth Avenue, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10029