How to Prevent a Second Heart Attack
18% of heart attack survivors will have a second heart attack. There are many things you can do to lower your risk factors, so you can go on to live a full and healthy life.1 Here are a few tips for preventing a second heart attack:
Keep your doctor’s appointments.
Your doctor can’t help you if he or she doesn’t know what’s going on. Keep all appointments and check in regularly. If you are having pain or any other symptoms it is important to be seen immediately. Regular check ups and communication with medical providers can help prevent any potential complications before they become serious.
Take medications as prescribed.
Medications are an important part of your plan. Cholesterol lowering medications can help prevent dangerous blockages that lead to future heart attacks. Blood thinners and blood pressure medications may also be prescribed to help control other risk factors.
Sometimes it might seem like you are on a lot of different medications and it can be overwhelming to know when and how to take them all. Therefore, it is important to be clear about your medication plan and always ask your doctor or pharmacist to clarify any questions or confusion.
Eat a heart-healthy diet.
A diet that supports heart health is critical for preventing a second heart attack. A Mediterreanean diet or the DASH diet have both been found to lower the risk of heart disease. These diets are based on a high intake of vegetables, whole grains, fruit, fish, heart healthy fats, and other lean protein choices.
Do cardiac rehab.
Rehab after a heart attack is a medically supervised program to help you strengthen the muscles in your heart. It is more than just a supervised workout. Rehab involves various phases of exercise that target the heart muscle, making it stronger after a heart attack. Usually it includes various types of exercises, while being monitored by a technician, over a period of 12 weeks.2 It is a stepping stone to getting back to regular physical activity without putting your heart at risk.
Social support after a heart attack can help decrease the risk of a second one occurring. Having a heart attack increases the risk of social isolation, depression, and anxiety.3 Family and social support can help with your mental and heart health. Consider joining a group for heart attack survivors to share in your journey. Stress management is also an important part of reducing your risk of a second heart attack. Social support can help reduce stress.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
Smoking, drinking, and drug use all increase the risk of heart attacks. All of these substances put additional stress on the heart and may even cause disruptions in heart rhythm.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight increases your risk for a second heart attack. Aim to lose just 5-10% of your body weight to start. This can lower your risk factors significantly. Speak to your cardiologist about the best weight loss program for you and how you can best achieve your goals.
With a few simple lifestyle modifications, a heart attack-free life can be in your future.
- Preventing a Second Heart Attack - Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. Accessed August 28, 2019.
- After a Heart Attack: Don’t Wait for a Second (Part Four) - Heart Insight Mag - Summer 2017. Accessed August 28, 2019.
- Psychol Sci. 2014;25(12):2177-2188.
- Tags: Heart Health
- Blog Contributor