Heart Attack | Prevention

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What can I do to help prevent heart attack?

A healthy lifestyle can help prevent heart attack. This includes:

  • Quitting smoking if you smoke, and avoiding secondhand smoke.
  • Keeping a healthy diet that is low in fat and low in cholesterol.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Managing your stress.
  • Controlling your blood pressure.
  • Managing your blood sugar level if you have diabetes.
  • Seeing your doctor regularly for check-ups.

Will I have to take medicine for the rest of my life?

Probably. If you have had a heart attack, your doctor will probably want you to take certain medicines for a long time to reduce your risk of more heart problems. Your doctor can answer any questions you have about these medicines, such as the benefits and risks of taking them.

Aspirin can reduce the risk of a heart attack. Your doctor may want you take a low dose of aspirin each day to keep your blood from forming clots that can eventually block the arteries. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of aspirin therapy.

Antiplatelet drugs can also help stop blood clots from forming. Blood clots can block the arteries that carry blood and oxygen to the heart (called the coronary arteries) and cause a heart attack or a stroke. These drugs are especially important to take for at least a year if you have had a stent placed in your heart.

Beta blockers are a group of drugs that lower the heart rate and blood pressure. They help improve blood flow to the heart.

ACE inhibitors are a group of drugs that can help if your heart is not pumping blood well. This medicine helps open (dilate) your arteries and lower your blood pressure. This improves blood flow.

Statins are a group of drugs that are used to lower “bad” cholesterol (also called LDL, or low-density lipoprotein) levels and may help increase “good” cholesterol (also called HDL, or high-density lipoprotein). If you have had a heart attack, your doctor may prescribe a statin.

I’m a woman. Can estrogen replacement therapy reduce my risk for heart disease?

No. Estrogen replacement therapy, also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT), was prescribed by doctors because they hoped it could help guard against certain diseases as well as treat the symptoms of menopause. It was once thought that HRT could help protect against heart disease. New studies have shown that when it comes to heart health, HRT actually does more harm than good. If you’re taking HRT to help prevent heart disease, talk to your doctor about whether you should stop.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff. Portions of this article were written by Susan D. Housholder, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, FAHA.

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/10

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