Healthy choices after a heart attack
You’ve just survived a heart attack.
That’s great! Now, what can you do to help avoid another one?
More than ever, it’s crucial to make heart-healthy choices. Here’s a look at five key ones:
- Be more active. “Regular physical activity can make your heart stronger,” says Rose Riggio, RN, Mercy Home Health Hospital Liaison Manager. “It helps your heart pump, and it can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight all in a healthy range.” Walking is generally the best exercise as you recover. But talk to your doctor about an exercise plan that’s safe for you.
- Eat smart. A healthy diet is one of the best defenses against repeat heart problems. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Make sure your diet also includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, beans and vegetable oils, such as olive or canola oil. And go easy on sweets, sugary drinks and salt.
- If you light up, quit. “Smoking can prevent blood and oxygen from reaching your heart,” Rose says. It also raises the risk of blood clots, which may lead to heart attacks. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help stopping. Also try to steer clear of secondhand smoke, which is hard on your heart.
- Drop extra pounds. If you’re overweight, losing just 10 percent of what you weigh can help lower your heart attack risk.
- Take your medicines faithfully. To head off another heart attack, you’ll likely need to take medicines for the rest of your life. Take them exactly as prescribed.