Heart Attack: How to Prevent Another One
After you've had a heart attack, you may be worried that you could have another one. That's easy to understand. But the good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your risk of having another heart attack.
- Take your medicine.
Medicines can help prevent another heart attack. Some of the medicines your doctor may prescribe include:
- Aspirin and other antiplatelet medicines. These are used to prevent blood clots.
- Statins and other medicines. These are used to lower high cholesterol.
- Beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, or ARBs. These are used to lower blood pressure and reduce the workload on your heart.
Don't stop taking your medicines unless your doctor tells you to. If you stop taking them, you can increase your risk of having another heart attack.
If you are a woman and have been taking hormone therapy, talk with your doctor about whether you should continue taking it.
- Ask your doctor about a cardiac rehab program.
Taking part in a cardiac rehabilitiation (rehab) program helps you recover from a heart attack. It also helps you take steps to prevent another one. A cardiac rehab program is designed for you and supervised by doctors and other specialists. They provide education and support to help you build new, healthy habits.
- Have a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Healthy lifestyle changes can help lower your risk of having another heart attack. And they may help you feel better and live longer. Here are some things you can do:
- Quit smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke.
This is one of the best things you can do for your heart and your overall health.
- Be active.
- Before you start activity, talk to your doctor to find out how much is safe for you. Increase your activity a little bit at a time, as your doctor approves.
- Get at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. Physical activity, like walking, can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cholesterol.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, and high-fiber grains and breads. Eat foods low in sodium (salt), saturated fat, and trans fat.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
Being overweight makes you more likely to have high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. These conditions make a heart attack more likely.
- Watch your emotional health.
Ask for help if you think you are depressed. Symptoms include feeling sad or hopeless all the time, or losing interest in activities that used to make you happy.
- Manage other health problems.
Health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can increase your risk of a heart attack. If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor.
- Avoid colds and flu.
Get the flu vaccine every year. Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need another dose.
Current as of: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology
Current as of: January 10, 2022