The heart attack prevention lifestyle

Having a heart attack can have devastating effects on your life. Fortunately, there are many changes you can make in your lifestyle to help reduce your risk of a heart attack.

  • maintain a healthy weight: Find out if you are at a healthy weight with the body mass index (BMI) calculator, and check your waist-to-hip ratio. Exercise and healthy eating can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • exercise: Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical aerobic activity each week. Choose something you enjoy or try adding a daily brisk walk to your routine. Jogging, running, swimming, tennis, and gardening are all examples of activities that you can do. If you can't squeeze in long workouts, aim for exercise sessions that are no less than 10 minutes each. If you are new to exercise, check with your doctor before starting.
  • eat healthy: A healthy diet can help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight, which will reduce your heart attack risk. See Canada's Food Guide for more information on healthy foods and portion sizes.
  • manage stress: Make time to relax, and take good care of yourself. This means getting enough rest, talking about your feelings, eating well, and staying active.
  • quit smoking: Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about ways to help you stop smoking. If you don't smoke, then don't start.
  • drink in moderation: Limit your alcohol use to no more than 2 drinks per day (to a maximum of 9 drinks per week for women or 14 drinks per week for men).
  • have regular medical checkups: Ask your doctor if you have any risk factors for a heart attack and, if so, what you can do to manage your risk.

Depending on your individual health situation, your doctor may recommend that you take other steps to reduce your risk of a heart attack, such as:

  • controlling medical conditions that increase your risk of heart attacks (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) by following your treatment plan and having regular checkups
  • taking preventive medications to reduce your risk of a heart attack (e.g., daily low-dose acetylsalicylic acid [ASA])

Use the Lifestyle Tool to learn more about healthy changes that you can make.

Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you prepare for your doctor's visit.

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