Living a
Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your heart health, whether you are trying to prevent or delay CAD or control it. A healthy lifestyle may include the following strategies:

Eat a healthy diet *

There are many diets that can help protect your heart and blood vessels. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan (Adobe PDF file). To help reduce high cholesterol, your doctor may suggest the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) Diet. Talk to your doctor or work with a registered dietician to determine the best eating plan for you.

A heart-healthy eating plan should follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid saturated fat, found in meat and full- and reduced-fat (2%) dairy products. Saturated fats are also found in foods prepared with palm or coconut oil and trans fatty acids (also called partially hydrogenated fats), such as fast foods, fried foods, and packaged foods like cookies and crackers. Instead, use healthier options such as canola, olive, and peanut oils.
  • Limit the amount of salt in your diet. Choose fresh foods and packaged foods labeled "low-salt" or "no added salt," and don't add salt when cooking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation if you drink. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure and triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood). Men should have no more than two drinks a day, and women should limit themselves to one.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least five servings a day, and choose a variety of fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cholesterol.
  • Select foods high in soluble fiber, like whole grains, fruits, and legumes (dried beans and peas). These can help lower cholesterol.
  • Eat fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, twice a week. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect the heart. Walnuts and other nuts are also good sources of omega-3s.

Stay physically active *

Fitting exercise into your day can help reduce your risk for CAD. Be sure to get your doctor's approval before you increase your activity level, especially if you've been sedentary for a while. Possible activities include walking, bicycling, swimming, taking water aerobics classes, doing chair exercises, and practicing yoga or tai chi. No matter what type of activity you choose, it's important to start off slowly and build up your endurance over time.

Maintain a healthy weight *

Being overweight puts you at increased risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which increase your risk for CAD. If you're not sure you're at a healthy weight, calculate your body mass index (BMI), which measures your weight in relation to your height. A BMI between 25 and 29. is considered overweight, and 30 and higher is considered obese. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. If you need help losing weight, discuss a healthy eating and exercise plan with your doctor.

Quit smoking

Smoking can constrict and damage your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure. If you smoke, it's never too late to stop, and the sooner, the better. If you need help quitting, there are many programs and products available. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

Reduce stress

Studies suggest a relationship between cardiovascular disease and stress. People who have chronic stress, such as dealing with a difficult work situation, financial pressures, or overwhelming family responsibilities, may be at a higher risk for CAD than someone who has a less stressful life. If your stress level is high, consider a stress-reducing activity such as exercising regularly, meditating, or enjoying a relaxing hobby.

* Always talk with your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise program.


Read Lexiscan® (regadenoson) injection Full Prescribing Information (PDF - 193 KB)

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Lexiscan (regadenoson) injection is a prescription drug given through an IV line that increases blood flow through the arteries of the heart during a cardiac nuclear stress test. Lexiscan is given to patients when they are unable to exercise adequately for a stress test.

Important Safety Information
  • Lexiscan should not be given to patients who have certain abnormal heart rhythms unless they have a pacemaker.
  • Lexiscan can cause serious or fatal cardiac arrest, abnormal heart rhythms or heart attack.
  • Allergic reactions can occur after Lexiscan injection.
  • Drugs such as Lexiscan may cause an increase or decrease in blood pressure, especially in patients with certain heart and blood vessel disorders.
  • Lexiscan can cause breathing difficulties. Before receiving Lexiscan, tell your doctor if you have respiratory diseases, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or asthma. Tell your doctor about all medications you use to manage these conditions.
  • Lexiscan can increase the risk of seizures. Before receiving Lexiscan, tell your doctor if you have a history of seizures.
  • Lexiscan can cause stroke, which may be a result of an increase or decrease in blood pressure.
  • The most common side effects that occurred in clinical trials of Lexiscan were shortness of breath, headache, flushing, chest discomfort or chest pain, dizziness, nausea, abdominal discomfort, a metallic taste in the mouth, and feeling hot. Most common side effects began soon after receiving Lexiscan and went away within 15 minutes except for headache, which resolved in most patients within 30 minutes.
  • Avoid consuming any caffeine-containing foods and beverages or medicines containing caffeine, aminophylline or theophylline in the 12 hours before your scheduled heart scan.
  • Ask your doctor if you should stop taking any medications you usually take before the day of the test.
  • For women who are nursing, pump and discard breast milk for 10 hours after receiving Lexiscan.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.