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How Can a Heart Attack Be Prevented?

How Can a Heart Attack Be Prevented?

Lowering your risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) can help you prevent a heart attack. (See "Who Is At Risk for a Heart Attack?") Even if you already have CAD, you can still take steps to lower your risk of heart attack.

Reducing the risk of heart attack usually means making healthy lifestyle choices. You also may need treatment for medical conditions that raise your risk. 

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Healthy lifestyle choices to help prevent heart attack include:

  • Following a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Pay careful attention to the amounts and types of fat in your diet. Lower your salt intake. These changes can help lower high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
  • Losing weight if you're overweight or obese.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Doing physical activity to improve heart fitness. Ask your doctor how much and what kinds of physical activity are safe for you.

Treat Related Conditions

In addition to making lifestyle changes, you can help prevent heart attacks by treating conditions you have that make a heart attack more likely:

  • High blood cholesterol. You may need medicine to lower your cholesterol if diet and exercise aren't enough.
  • High blood pressure. You may need medicine to keep your blood pressure under control.
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar). If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels through diet and physical activity (as your doctor recommends). If needed, take medicine as prescribed.

Have an Emergency Action Plan

Make sure that you have an emergency action plan in case you or someone else in your family has a heart attack. This is especially important if you're at high risk or have already had a heart attack.

Talk with your doctor about the signs and symptoms of heart attack, when you should call 9–1–1, and steps you can take while waiting for medical help to arrive.


Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institute of Health [NIH]

Retrieved: June 2008

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