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A checklist for heart attack prevention, from the July 2013 Harvard Men's Health Watch

Sometimes there seems to be no end to the media's advice for men about heart health. The ever-expanding menu of foods that are good for the heart and bad for it…the must-do exercise routines…the latest dietary supplement guaranteed to keep the ticker strong.

But what are the truly essential steps for heart health, whether a man has already had a heart attack or wants to do everything he can to reduce his chances of having one? In the July 2013 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch, Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, identifies several must-do steps men need to take. They go beyond taking a cholesterol-lowering statin or a daily baby aspirin.

"Being on aspirin and a statin won't make you bulletproof," Dr. Bhatt says. "You still could have another heart attack if you are not doing other things that are important." Here is what he suggests:

Be as physically active as possible. Any amount of exercise is better than none or very little.

Get a yearly flu shot. In people with heart disease, a flu infection can increase heart attack risk.

Drink alcohol in moderation. A standard drink or two of alcohol per day is not likely to cause harm and may help—as long as it isn't interacting in harmful ways with a heart medication.

Lose weight if needed. Getting rid of that spare tire can further reduce cardiac risk, in addition to the effects of medications, exercise, and good nutrition.

Sign up for cardiac rehabilitation. For men diagnosed with heart disease, cardiac rehab provides supervised exercise, nutrition counseling, training in stress reduction, and positive social support—all crucial to regaining health after a cardiovascular crisis.

Read the full-length article: "A heart attack prevention checklist"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch

  • A heart attack prevention checklist
  • On call: Causes of cold feet
  • On call: How to get more potassium
  • Self-help steps to get through hemorrhoid flare-ups
  • Add color to your diet for good nutrition
  • How to prevent gout attacks
  • Prostate help: A test that can help you avoid unnecessary prostate biopsies
  • How to get more heart-healthy exercise today
  • In the journals: Strength training is better for bones
  • In the journals: New eye vitamin mix for vision loss is no better than older one
  • In the journals: Heartburn surgery outlasts drugs
  • In the journals: Earlier start with medication may slow BPH symptoms

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.