Your heart surgery may have fixed your heart, but it did not cure your coronary artery disease. Following heart surgery, your goal is to protect the long-term health of your heart.

Start by reducing your risk factors, the things that can increase the damage to your heart. Risk factors include unhealthy cholesterol levels, smoking and second-hand smoke, high blood pressure, an inactive lifestyle, being overweight, diabetes and stress.

If you have not done so already, work with your cardiac care team to determine which risk factors you need to improve.

Most risk factors can be controlled by making lifestyle changes.

If you are overweight, take steps to lose weight by making healthier food choices and getting physically active. If you smoke, quit. Control your blood pressure and cholesterol by making healthier food choices. If you have diabetes, follow your management plan to maintain a healthy glucose level. And, find ways to reduce stress in your life.

Making lifestyle changes can be difficult, especially at first. Start slowly, and take one day at a time. Every little success is good for your heart.

If you do have a setback, don't get discouraged. Stay committed to making changes for your long-term heart health.

Attending cardiac rehabilitation can help you develop the skills you need to properly care for your heart for the long-term. It's also a great place to work and share with others making similar changes.

Reducing your heart disease risk factors will help you maintain your heart health, and may lessen the chance of further health problems in the future.

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