CAD Facts & Fiction

Test your knowledge and understand what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to coronary artery disease (CAD).

Fiction. Being active is an important part of overall cardiovascular health—even after a heart attack. Physical activity improves blood flow and strengthens the heart muscle, in addition to having positive effects on your energy and mood. If you haven’t been active for a while, walking is a great place to start. Read more about how to get started.

Fiction. It’s true that blood pressure rises as you age, but high blood pressure is one of the key risk factors for CAD. As you age, artery walls begin to stiffen, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. This can damage the inner lining of the arteries and may eventually lead to plaque buildup, increasing your risk for heart attack and stroke. You can talk to your healthcare professional about what steps you can take to lower your blood pressure.

Fact. If you have diabetes, it’s critical to take your medication to control your blood sugar. But even when your blood sugar is under control, CAD can still progress, and you are still at risk for heart attack and stroke. This is because some of the risk factors that contribute to diabetes are also risk factors for CAD. In addition to taking your diabetes medication, you should do everything you can to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It’s also important to stop smoking and do your best to maintain a heart-healthy diet and be more active.

Fact. You can reap the benefits of quitting the moment you stop. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you have smoked, or how much you have smoked. Studies show that people with CAD who quit smoking can reduce their risk for heart attack and cardiovascular death by 50%.

Fiction. While these procedures can relieve pain and also be lifesaving, they do not address the underlying cause of plaque buildup in your coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis, the progressive disease that leads to CAD, cannot be cured. However, lifestyle changes and medication can help slow the progression of CAD and reduce your risk for chest pain, heart attack, and stroke.

Fiction. Warfarin is a blood thinner prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots in people with certain health conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), and atrial fibrillation (AFib). While it’s also true that it may be prescribed to people who have just had a heart attack, warfarin is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce the risk of blood clot–related events like heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular death in people with CAD.