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How Can Coronary Microvascular Disease Be Prevented?

No specific studies have been done on how to prevent coronary microvascular disease (MVD).

Researchers don't yet known how or in what way preventing coronary MVD differs from preventing coronary heart disease (CHD). Coronary MVD affects the tiny coronary arteries, while CHD affects the large coronary arteries.

Taking action to control heart disease risk factors can help prevent or delay CHD. You can't control some risk factors, such as older age and family history of heart disease. However, you can take steps to prevent or control other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking.

Lifestyle changes and ongoing care can help you lower your risk for heart disease.

Lifestyle Changes

Following a healthy diet is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. It also includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods, such as lean meats, poultry without skin, seafood, processed soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas.

A healthy diet is low in sodium (salt), added sugars, solid fats, and refined grains. Solid fats are saturated fat and trans fatty acids. Refined grains come from processing whole grains, which results in a loss of nutrients (such as dietary fiber).

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are two programs that promote healthy eating.

If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan. Controlling your weight helps you control heart disease risk factors.

Be as physically active as you can. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. People gain health benefits from as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. The more active you are, the more you'll benefit.

For more information about physical activity, go to the Health Topics Physical Activity and Your Heart article and the NHLBI's "Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart."

If you smoke, quit. Smoking can damage and tighten your blood vessels. It also can raise your risk for heart disease and heart attack and worsen other heart disease risk factors.

Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. For more information about quitting smoking, go to the Health Topics Smoking and Your Heart article and the NHLBI's "Your Guide to a Healthy Heart."

Learn how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems. This can improve your emotional and physical health. Physical activity, medicine, and relaxation therapy can help relieve stress. You also may want to consider taking part in a stress management program.

Ongoing Care

Learn more about heart disease and the traits, conditions, and habits that can raise your risk for it. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for heart disease and how to control them.

If lifestyle changes aren't enough, your doctor may prescribe medicines to control your risk factors. Take all of your medicines as your doctor advises.

Know your numbers—ask your doctor for these three tests, and have the results explained to you:

  • Lipoprotein panel. This test measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (sometimes called "bad" cholesterol), HDL cholesterol (sometimes called "good" cholesterol), and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood).
  • Blood pressure measurement.
  • Fasting blood glucose. This test is for diabetes.

Know your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement. BMI measures your weight in relation to your height and gives an estimate of your total body fat. You can use the NHLBI's online BMI calculator to figure out your BMI, or your doctor can help you.

In adults, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.

To measure your waistline, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out. A waist measurement of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men is a risk factor for heart disease and other health problems.

Know your family history of heart disease. If you or someone in your family has heart disease, tell your doctor.

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Last Updated: November 2, 2011