Preventing a second heart attack

Updated: Apr 22

Coronary Heart Disease is still the number one killer in Australia, over 1 million Australians are living with heart disease, stroke, or vascular conditions. Your diet and lifestyle play a huge role in your chances of developing Heart Disease. As our patron Dr Ross Walker states “Our Genes load the gun, and our environment pulls the trigger’’

By improving your lifestyle, including your diet and level of fitness, you can minimise your risk of a secondary heart event. By taking action you can significantly reduce your chance of a second heart attack.

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of another heart event:

· Inactive lifestyle

· Being overweight or obese

· High cholesterol

· High blood sugar, if you have diabetes

· High blood pressure

· Smoking

· Too much stress

· Heavy alcohol use or use of illegal drugs

What you should do

We recommend the following to reduce your chances of having a secondary heart event. These small changes can help you bring a major change in your health.

Stop Smoking: As hard as it may sound, the truth is that you can cut your risk for another heart attack in half by not smoking. This is the biggest preventable risk factor for heart disease.

Balanced Heart healthy diet: We suggest the Mediterranean diet which typically means one that is rich in fruit and vegetables, oily fish, such as sardines, and wholegrain cereals, with modest amounts of meat and low-fat dairy. One of the better-known aspects is the use of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil instead of saturated fats such as butter.

Regular Exercise: Exercise is important because it strengthens your heart muscle. It also boosts your energy level and helps with weight management, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of walking or other moderately vigorous exercise at least 3 to 5 times each week. If you have had a heart attack, you must get your healthcare provider's advice before starting an exercise program.

Maintain A Healthy Weight: Being overweight greatly increases your risk for a second heart attack. Seek help from your physician in case you need to lose weight. Your BMI (body mass index) should be between 18.5 and 24.9. This is the healthiest range.

Control High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is one of the biggest triggers for a secondary heart event. Get a proper plan from your physician to control high blood pressure.

Medication: Your heart, cholesterol, and blood pressure medicines are an important part of your heart health. Make sure you take the medicines on time and understand the side effects of your medicines.

Diabetes and Blood Sugar: You are at higher risk for a second heart attack if you have diabetes or are developing a resistance to insulin and have high blood sugar levels. Lowering blood sugars can decrease the inflammation and damage to the coronary arteries. It can prevent scarring or narrowing of these blood vessels.

Alcohol: Excessive alcohol can raise blood pressure and put additional stress on the heart. Alcohol can also raise blood sugar and triglyceride levels. Make sure you follow your physician’s advice on alcohol and limit your alcohol consumption.

Mental Health: Depression, stress, anxiety, and anger can damage your heart and overall health. Speak with your physician or join a support group to share your feelings and discuss the aftereffects of your heart event.

Heart Support Australia runs a monthly support groups in locations across Australia. To join, call us at 02 62530097 or email at

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