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Rx for Heart Patients: Healthier Living, Medication
Date:11/4/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A healthy lifestyle and appropriate medications can help people with heart disease live longer and avoid a heart attack or stroke, according to new guidelines from the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association.

Following the updated recommendations can also improve quality of life, reduce the need for surgical procedures to open blocked arteries and lower the likelihood of a repeat heart attack or stroke if you've suffered one already, the authors said.

"The full implementation of these cardiovascular protective therapies into clinical practice can markedly reduce the risk of death, disability and health care expenditures due to cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

For the first time, the guidelines also recommend a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program after a heart attack, stroke, bypass surgery, or the diagnosis of heart-related chest pain or blockages in leg arteries.

Doctors should also screen patients with known heart disease for depression, the authors said. Depression, which is common after heart attack or bypass surgery, can reduce quality of life and make it difficult to alter harmful health behaviors, they noted.

"Every effort should be made to apply these evidence-based, guideline-recommended therapies to routine clinical practice," added Fonarow, who was not involved in writing the guidelines.

Once people develop coronary artery disease or other vascular disease, such as peripheral artery disease, they are at high risk for recurrent events and death. "Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death and disability for men and women in the United States," Fonarow said. "Fortunately, there are a number of therapies proven
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