If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the single leading cause of heart disease: smokers are 2-3 times more likely to die from a coronary heart disease than non-smokers. Smoking disrupts your heart rhythm, decreases your "Healthy" HDL cholesterol (that gets rid of artery-clogging plaque) and damages your arteries. Smoking also doubles your risk of a second heart attack. Stay away from second-hand smoke too!
Lose weight, if you need to. Lots of studies have shown that BMIs over 25 increase the risk of dying young, mainly from heart disease. Click here to calculate your BMI. An alternative to the BMI is to measure your waist measurement. The more fat you have around your middle, the greater your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and heart disease. Men should keep their waists circumferences (measured at the belly button) to less than 37 inches or 94 cm, women to less than 31 inches or 80cm. What's your waist circumference?
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise will go a long way in preventing a second heart attack, even if you don't lose weight. Exercise strengthens your heart, increases your "Healthy" HDL cholesterol, decreases your "Lousy" LDL cholesterol (that clogs up your arteries) and also can help prevent depression often associated with a heart attack. A study found that people that have had a heart attack and that increased their physical activity levels were nearly twice as likely to be alive after 7 years compared to those that stayed inactive.
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of walking or other moderately vigorous exercise at least five times each week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times each week, along with activities to increase or maintain muscular strength twice a week as well as daily activities like gardening and housework.
Not everybody can tolerate exerise the same way after a heart attack. Talk to your doctor who will probably ask you to do a stress test- your heart is monitored while walking on a treadmill or riding a stationnary bike. Many people participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program after their first heart attack where the heart is monitred during exercise to ensure the intensity is safe.