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How Can a Heart Attack Be Prevented?

Lowering your risk factors for coronary heart disease can help you prevent a heart attack. Even if you already have coronary heart disease, you still can take steps to lower your risk for a heart attack. These steps involve making heart-healthy lifestyle changes and getting ongoing medical care for related conditions that make heart attack more likely. Talk to your doctor about whether you may benefit from aspirin primary prevention, or using aspirin to help prevent your first heart attack.


Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes

A heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent a heart attack and includes heart-healthy eating, being physically active, quitting smoking, managing stress, and managing your weight.

Ongoing Care

Treat Related Conditions

Treating conditions that make a heart attack more likely also can help lower your risk for a heart attack. These conditions may include:

  • Diabetes (high blood sugar). If you have diabetes, try to control your blood sugar level through diet and physical activity (as your doctor recommends). If needed, take medicine as prescribed.
  • High blood cholesterol. Your doctor may prescribe a statin medicine to lower your cholesterol if diet and exercise aren’t enough.
  • High blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to keep your blood pressure under control.
  • Chronic kidney disease. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to control your high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels.
  • Peripheral artery disease. Your doctor may recommend surgery or procedures to unblock the affected arteries.

Have an Emergency Action Plan

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

Write down a list of medicines you are taking, medicines you are allergic to, your health care provider’s phone numbers (both during and after office hours), and contact information for a friend or relative. Keep the list in a handy place (for example, fill out this wallet card) to share in a medical emergency.

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

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Updated: January 27, 2015