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9 Foods to Avoid After a Heart Attack


Elizabeth Beasley

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Changes to your diet after a heart attack can have a big impact.

Many people can live strong, vibrant lives after a heart attack—if they make lifestyle changes to improve their heart health. A heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to keep your body in good shape and prevent future heart attacks. In general, you should reduce your intake of saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you with specific guidelines for adjusting your diet after a heart attack. To get you started, here’s a list of top foods to avoid after a heart attack.

Burger and fries

1. Fried Foods

Reducing your blood cholesterol after a heart attack is one of the top methods for lowering your risk of a future heart attack or stroke. Saturated and trans fats can lead to high blood cholesterol and a buildup of plaque in your arteries, so it’s wise to cut fried foods from your diet. Most restaurants fry their foods in oils that contain saturated fats. As an alternative, try frying or stir frying your favorite foods at home, using healthier fats like olive, vegetable and nut oils.


2. Hot Dogs, Sausage, and Other Processed Meats

Processed meats, like hot dogs, sausage and lunch meat, are loaded with sodium and nitrates. This can raise your blood pressure and your risk of another heart attack. High blood pressure is particularly dangerous because there usually aren’t any symptoms. Unless you check your blood pressure, you may not know it’s higher than normal. Instead of grabbing a deli sandwich or hot dog for lunch, opt for a chicken breast sandwich or turkey burger.


3. Sugary Baked Goods

A heart-healthy diet limits sweet treats because they often contain saturated fats that raise your blood cholesterol and refined sugar that sends your blood sugar levels skyrocketing. Processed sweets may also contain sodium that you wouldn’t normally expect in a sugary snack. If you have a sweet tooth, switch to fresh fruit if you are craving sugar. Or bake your own cookies and cakes so you can choose healthy ingredients like natural sugar substitutes and whole grains. And remember, an occasional indulgence won’t spoil all your hard work to eat right.

4. Salted Nuts and Snacks

To eat a smart diet for heart disease, you need to take note of where salt slips into your diet unexpectedly. Nuts are rich with good-for-you fats, but try to switch from salted to unsalted ones. The same goes for crackers and other savory snacks. Read nutrition labels and keep an eye on how much salt is in your favorite crackers or chips. Opt for unsalted or low-sodium versions whenever you can.

5. Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate isn’t the worst food to eat, but dark chocolate is much better for you if you’re trying to improve your diet after a heart attack. Milk chocolate contains more sugar and fat solids than the darker version. 80% CACAO.




1. “Electrical Heat problems, when arrhythmia is present. AKA Ischemia

Coronary artery disease restricts the flow of blood to your heart.

Over time, atherosclerosis causes arteries to become narrow and harden. This restricts the normal flow of blood back to the heart. The resulting cascade of problems is called coronary artery disease (CAD). Symptoms of CAD include chest pain, arrhythmias and blood clots. Left untreated, CAD can cause heart failure, stroke, or a heart attack. Heart attacks and strokes happen when a blood clot breaks off, gets stuck in a narrow artery, and cuts off the blood supply to the heart or the brain. If not treated right away, heart attack and stroke can result in permanent organ damage or death.

Dizzy in the Gym

3. Heart disease can cause other diverse symptoms.

In addition to the effects of atherosclerosis, heart disease can produce other signs. Symptoms of arrhythmias include heart flutters, racing or slow heartbeat, lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. Congenital heart defects are known to produce pale gray or blue skin (cyanosis); swelling in hands, legs and feet; shortness of breath during exercise; lack of stamina; and poor weight gain in infants. In late stages of cardiomyopathy, you may experience fatigue, breathlessness after physical exertion or rest, swelling of the lower extremities, and irregular heartbeats. A heart infection may result in fever, skin rashes, dry and persistent cough, abdominal swelling, and weakness.

Woman with chest pain

4. Women and men can experience heart disease differently.

Common heart problems like atherosclerosis, heart failure, and arrhythmias affect men and women more or less equally. But some heart conditions occur more frequently in women. Women are more likely to experience two specific types of angina (chest pain): stable angina, which occurs during physical activity or times of stress, and variant (Prinzmetal’s) angina, which is caused by spasms in the coronary muscles. Cardiac syndrome X and stress-induced cardiomyopathy (or broken heart syndrome) are also diagnosed more often in women. Symptoms of heart attack can be different as well. Women may have more subtle symptoms like shortness of breath, lower chest pain, dizziness, and fatigue that many people don’t immediately associate with a heart attack.

Three senior black women exercising together

5. You can take action to protect yourself from heart disease.

While some factors like family history or genetics are out of your control, there are many steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease. Make a nutritious diet and good sleep habits the foundation of your daily regimen. Controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and weight can help minimize plaque deposits in your arteries. Not smoking, or quitting if you do is one of the most effective ways to keep your blood pressure in check. Regular exercise and other stress-relieving activities are healthy for your heart and your body overall. Diabetes doubles your risk for certain heart problems, so maintaining consistent control of your blood sugar levels can protect your heart.

6. Know when to see a doctor or call 911.

If you are experiencing chest pain together with shortness of breath, lightheadedness, sweating, upper body pain, extreme fatigue, or heart palpitation, call 911 seek medical help immediately. These can be signs of a heart attack in progress. See your doctor if you have chest pain without any additional symptoms, or to discuss your risk factors and preventive steps you can take. Heart disease is most successfully treated when diagnosed early, so keep up with your annual physicals. In many cases, heart disease is diagnosed at a routine doctor’s visit.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III Last Review Date: Nov 22, 2017

© 2019 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. The content on Healthgrades does not provide medical advice. Always consult a medical provider for diagnosis and treatment. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.



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