Heart Attack

Lowering Your Risk

Lowering your risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) can help you prevent a heart attack. Even if you already have CHD or have already had a heart attack, you can still take steps to lower your risk. These steps involve following a heart healthy lifestyle and getting ongoing care for conditions that raise your risk.

Heart Healthy Lifestyle Changes

You can make these lifestyle changes to lower your risk of having a heart attack.

  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be as physically active as you can.
  • Follow a heart healthy diet.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking can raise your risk of CHD and heart attack. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.

Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan that involves diet and physical activity. Controlling your weight helps you control risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and heart attack.

Be as physically active as you can. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. Talk with your doctor about what types of activity are safe for you.

Follow a heart healthy diet. Following a healthy diet is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet to prevent or reduce high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, and to maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugars.

For More Information About Healthy Eating

For more information about following a healthy diet, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) Aim for a Healthy Weight Web site, Your Guide to a Healthy Heart, and Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH. In addition, a variety of heart healthy recipes to help you plan meals is available at Aim for a Healthy Weight. All of these resources provide general information about healthy eating.

Treatment for Related Conditions

Get treatment for related conditions that make having a heart attack more likely.

  • If you have high blood cholesterol, follow your doctor's advice about lowering it. Take medications to lower your cholesterol as directed if diet and exercise aren't enough.
  • If you have high blood pressure, follow your doctor's advice about keeping it under control. Take blood pressure medications as directed.
  • If you have diabetes, sometimes called high blood sugar, try to control your blood sugar level through diet and physical activity (as your doctor recommends). If needed, take medicine as prescribed.