Alternative treatment for coronary artery disease consists primarily of making lifestyle changes that improve your heart health. Becoming or staying physically active and making conscious decisions about what foods you eat are choices that give you a great deal of control over whether you develop CAD or whether existing CAD leads to a heart attack. The heart is a muscle. Like any other muscle, it responds favorably to physical conditioning. Physical activity keeps stress in check and helps your heart work more efficiently so that it takes less cardiac effort to circulate blood through your body.
In addition to regular exercise and a healthy diet, there are some nutritional supplements that can help reduce your risk of CAD.
Omega-3 fatty acids, derived from fatty fish, are thought to reduce inflammation in your body. Inflammation is a contributing factor in heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids may also decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and boost immunity. Eating two servings per week of cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, herring, or mackerel appears to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in flax and flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans, and soybean oil. The amount of omega-3 fatty acids in these foods is less than in fish. Evidence of the heart benefits from eating these foods is not as strong as the evidence for eating fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also be taken as a supplement. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. High doses of omega-3s can increase your risk of bleeding problems, especially if taken with blood-thinning medications.
Phytosterols are found in unrefined vegetable oils, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Eating foods enriched with at least 0.8 grams of plant sterols or stanols daily can reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Lower LDL levels help to reduce your risk of CAD.
Current research indicates that vitamin D might be beneficial in reducing your risk of heart disease. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with increased risk of heart disease. How much vitamin D you should take is not clear. Some doctors are recommending as much as 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day. You should talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D supplements. Too much vitamin D can cause you to absorb too much calcium, which can cause kidney stones or damage.
It is a good idea to eat foods rich in vitamin D. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Chinook salmon
- fortified soy milk
- fortified orange juice
- canned tuna
- fortified breakfast cereals
- fortified margarine
Alternative treatments have not been proven to be effective. Some can be used in conjunction with your medical treatments. Some may interfere with your medical treatments. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any alternative treatment for CAD.