How to Prevent a Heart Attack

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What can I do to prevent a heart attack when home alone?

Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle with a nutritious low-fat diet and exercise is the best way to prevent heart disease and heart attack. However, if you have a heart attack and are home alone when it occurs here are some tips help improve your outcome.

  • Know the symptoms of a heart attack. Keep your cell phone available at all times. If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Minutes count! Do this FIRST, before anything else.
  • If the 911 operator suggests it, take an aspirin if you are not allergic. Be prepared – talk to your doctor and find out if you should be on aspirin therapy to prevent a heart attack occurs.
  • The Internet has spread the idea of "cough CPR," however, the American Heart Association does not endorse this as a way to prevent heart attacks. If you are having a sudden abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and are conscious you may be able to cough forcefully enough to maintain enough blood flow to the brain to stay conscious a few seconds more until the arrhythmia breaks. Coughing probably won't hurt, but always call 911 first.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/29/2016

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  • Heart Attack Prevention - Diet Tips

    What healthy diet tips (what foods have you eliminated, what foods you now include, etc.,) have you found to be useful in reducing your risk of heart attack, or another one?


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