You can improve your health after a heart attack by making changes to your lifestyle.

If You Smoke, Quit

Smoking can increase the amount of fatty material that collects in your arteries. In addition, nicotine containing cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder. It narrows blood vessels and subsequently increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Also remember that secondhand smoke is detrimental to your health. Make sure you are not exposed to cigarette smoke at all. When you quit smoking , your risk of heart disease drops significantly within the first year.

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet

A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in whole grains , fruits and vegetables will help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight—three heart attack risk factors. The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends that you add fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids , to your diet at least twice per week, and to talk to your doctor about whether you should take omega-3 supplements.

If you are interested in eating healthier, your doctor can give you a referral to a registered dietician. She can create a meal plan that is right for you, ensuring that you get all of the nutrients that your body needs.

If Obese, Lose Weight

Follow the dietary and exercise plan recommended by your doctor. Being overweight or obese is associated with a higher risk of heart attack. Losing weight lowers that risk. To lose weight, consume fewer calories than you expend. To maintain a healthy weight, eat an equal number of calories than you expend. One indicator of healthy weight is body mass index (BMI). BMI of 25 and above is associated with high cholesterol , high blood pressure , and increased risk of heart disease.