You can improve your health after a
by making changes to your lifestyle.
can increase the amount of fatty material that collects in your arteries.
In addition, nicotine containing cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder. It narrows blood vessels and subsequently increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Also remember that secondhand smoke is detrimental to your health. Make sure you are not exposed to cigarette smoke at all. When you
quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops significantly within the first year.
low in saturated fat
and cholesterol and rich in
fruits and vegetables
will help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight—three heart attack risk factors. The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends that you add fish, which contains
omega-3 fatty acids
, to your diet at least twice per week, and to talk to your doctor about whether you should take omega-3 supplements.
If you are interested in eating healthier, your doctor can give you a referral to a registered dietician. She can create a meal plan that is right for you, ensuring that you get all of the nutrients that your body needs.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for physical activity. After a heart attack, you will most likely be referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program, which will help you establish a life-long exercise plan. Choose exercises that you enjoy and that you will make a regular part of your day. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For most people, this could include walking briskly or participating in another aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes per day.
Follow the dietary and exercise plan recommended by your doctor. Being overweight or
is associated with a higher risk of heart attack. Losing weight lowers that risk. To lose weight, consume fewer calories than you expend. To maintain a healthy weight, eat an equal number of calories than you expend.
One indicator of healthy weight is
body mass index
(BMI). BMI of 25 and above is associated with
high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease.
If your doctor has prescribed medicine for your heart condition, take them exactly as directed and report side effects to your doctor. Do not skip pills or stop taking them without consulting your doctor.
Heavy drinking is associated with increased risk of heart attack. Moderate drinking may lower the risk of heart attack. Moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits. In addition, alcohol may interfere with your medicines. Make sure to discuss your alcohol intake with your doctor.
- If you experience any chest pain or discomfort—Call 911.
- If you become short of breath
- If you have pain in your arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- If you develop new symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, lightheadedness, or dizziness
- If any of your medicines cause side effects
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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