Life after a Heart Attack


Having a heart attack is a life altering event.

While deaths due to heart disease have decreased in recent years, it’s still the number one killer of Americans. The good news is we now know a ton about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes and heart attacks.

But what dietary and lifestyle changes should we implement to prevent a recurrence?

Lifestyle changes — including exercise, weight loss and diet modifications, in addition to medications — have proven to improve long-term survival.

Two important studies confirm this: one by Li et al that observed more than 4,000 participants from the Nurses’ Health study and a Health Professionals follow-up study, which tracked who had suffered a heart attack. Follow-up on these heart patient averaged 8.7 years for women and 9 years for men.

The studies found that patients who reduced their red and processed meat intake as well as trans-fat intake (Crisco and margarine), in addition to reducing their sweetened beverage intake, reduced their overall mortality by 29 percent and cardiovascular mortality by almost 40 percent. With results as dramatic as these, I recommend heart patients eliminate or drastically reduce their intake of red and processed meats, as well as trans-fats and sweetened beverages

And don’t even think of switching from regular Coke to Diet Coke. I am a firm believer that all sodas should be eliminated from your diet.

Some physicians recommend going meatless one day a week, which decreases your intake of animal and saturated fat. Instead of ground chuck in your chili, why not add beans or give your vegetables a starring role in the dish? Tofu is a no-no, as is pizza, but unsalted nuts, old-fashioned oatmeal (which can lower cholesterol), berries (antioxidants), and salmon are heart-healthy additions for your diet.

To end on a sweet note, 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate made with a minimum of 70 percent cocoa solids, when eaten in moderation, not only sweetens your mood but also can improve blood flow, prevent blockage of arteries and raise your good cholesterol levels.

Better still, you don’t have to experience a heart attack to enjoy the benefits!


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