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Heart Attack and Unstable Angina - Preventing Another Heart Attack

After you've had a heart attack, your biggest concern will probably be that you could have another one. You can help lower your risk of another heart attack by joining a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program and taking your medicines.

Do cardiac rehab

You might have started cardiac rehab in the hospital or soon after you got home. It's an important part of your recovery after a heart attack.

In cardiac rehab, you will get education and support that help you make new, healthy habits, such as eating right and getting more exercise.

Make heart-healthy habits

If you don't do a cardiac rehab program, you will still need to learn about lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of another heart attack. These changes include quitting smoking, eating heart-healthy foods, and being active.

For more information on lifestyle changes, see Life After a Heart Attack.

Take your medicines

After having a heart attack, take all of your medicines correctly. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to. If you stop taking your medicine, you might raise your risk of having another heart attack.

You might take medicines to:

  • Prevent blood clots. These medicines include aspirin and other medicines such as clopidogrel (Plavix).
  • Decrease the workload on your heart (beta-blocker).
  • Lower cholesterol.
  • Treat irregular heartbeats.
  • Lower blood pressure.

For more information, see Medications.

One Man's Story:


Alan, 73

"At some point in my life I was going to have a heart attack. Smoking just sped it up. It happened while I was playing basketball with some guys from work. I started getting pains in my chest. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor."—Alan

Read more about Alan and how he learned to cope after a heart attack.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 13, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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