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

to reduce the risk of mortality, recurrent events, need for revascularization procedures, cardiovascular hospitalizations and impairment of health status in patients with established cardiovascular disease."

The guidelines are published online Nov. 3 in Circulation and in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Both patients and their doctors play a part in preventing heart attack and stroke, said the experts, who also recommend the following for anyone with heart disease:

  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day five to seven days a week.
  • Take off those extra pounds.
  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Take low-dose aspirin daily unless your doctor recommends otherwise.

"Unless improvements are made in your behavior and medical therapy, the same blood vessel problem that caused your first heart attack or stroke can occur again -- and may result in death -- so long-term changes need to be initiated to get the vascular disease under control," Dr. Sidney C. Smith, Jr., chair of the guideline writing group and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said in a news release from the associations.

"Be sure to ask your physician about therapies that can help you live longer and stay healthier after you've survived a heart attack or stroke and make them part of your commitment to a healthy lifestyle," Smith said.

For doctors prescribing drugs to prevent blood clotting, the authors offer new options. As alternatives to Plavix (clopidogrel) plus aspirin for patients who have received heart artery stents to help blood flow, they suggested Effient (prasugrel) and Brilinta (ticagrelor).

The guidelines also stress the importance of statin drugs, such as Lipitor and Crestor, to lower cholesterol in patients with atherosclerosis, a condition involving plaque buildup in the arteries.

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