Alternative treatment for coronary artery disease (CAD) involves 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 more control over whether you develop CAD or whether CAD you already have 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. The American Heart Association emphasizes the benefit of a regular exercise for CAD patients. It recommends that you first see your doctor for exercise testing to establish a baseline, and then it recommends that your doctor refers you to an exercise program.
In addition to regular exercise and a healthy diet, some nutritional supplements may help reduce your risk of CAD. The Cleveland Clinic cautions that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as strictly as prescription medicines and the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act of October 1994 doesn’t require manufacturers to prove supplement safety or effectiveness. Also, some supplements can cause serious interactions with medications, particularly the ones people take for heart conditions. If you have CAD, they recommend that you get medical supervision for all supplements you take.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Researchers believe omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the 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 are also in:
- flaxseed oil
- canola oil
- soybean oil
The amount of omega-3 fatty acids in these foods is less than in fish. Evidence of the heart benefits of eating these foods isn’t as strong as the evidence for eating fish.
You can also take omega-3 fatty acids 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 you take them with blood-thinning medications.
Phytosterols are in:
- unrefined vegetable oils
- whole grains
Eating foods enriched with at least 0.8 grams of plant sterols or stanols daily can reduce your levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or 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. Researchers have linked low levels of vitamin D with an increased risk of heart disease. How much vitamin D you should take isn’t clear. Some doctors are recommending as much as 1,000 to 2,000 international units 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’s 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
Researchers haven’t proven that alternative treatments for CAD are effective. Some alternative treatments may interfere with your medical treatments. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any alternative treatment for CAD.