Reducing heart attack risks

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Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase your risk of having another heart attack. It’s important to check for these conditions regularly and manage them if you have them.

Diabetes and heart attack

Diabetes is a condition that affects the way body cells take up and use glucose from the blood, which means you have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Ask your doctor about screening for diabetes. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to manage it and use the diabetes action plan to set goals.

Types of diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • type 1: previously known as insulin-dependent or juvenile onset diabetes.
  • type 2: previously known as non-insulin dependent or mature onset diabetes.

People with cardiovascular disease often have type 2 diabetes. This makes up 90% of diabetes cases.

Diabetes is on the rise. The best way to manage diabetes is to be physically active, eat a healthy diet and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about screening for diabetes.

How to manage diabetes

Manage your diabetes long term. Ask your doctor to check your blood glucose levels with a regular HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) blood test. This shows your average blood glucose levels over the past 10 to 12 weeks.

Generally, aim for an HbA1c level of less than or equal to 7%. These goals can vary for different people. Find out from your doctor or accredited diabetes educator what your blood glucose and HbA1c goals should be.

Keep a record of your blood glucose levels. This will help you and your doctor to best manage your diabetes together.

Lifestyle changes

Work with your doctor to make a plan for managing diabetes.

Your doctor will advise lifestyle changes like being physically active, eating healthy foods and staying at a healthy weight.

You should also:

  • stop smoking
  • manage your blood pressure
  • manage your cholesterol
  • regularly see your doctor for diabetes reviews.

Need more diabetes information?

If you need help, call Diabetes Australia on 1300 136 588. They can give you information and advice to help you manage diabetes.

High blood pressure and heart attack

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body.  Having high blood pressure over a long time can cause heart problems.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body.

Find out what blood pressure is and what causes high blood pressure.

What should my blood pressure be?

Aim to have a target blood pressure of less than 130/80. Talk with your doctor about what your blood pressure level should be.

If you have coronary heart disease, blood pressure–lowering medicine is a common way to reach a good blood pressure level.

Why check your blood pressure at home?

Your blood pressure may be different at home to what it is in the hospital or at the doctor’s. Home measurements can give more information and help your doctor decide about treatment.

Your doctor may show you how to measure your blood pressure yourself and ask you to bring the results to your next appointments. They may ask you to wear a special monitor that records your blood pressure over 24 hours.

How to manage high blood pressure

Even if you take a blood pressure–lowering medicine, you still need to change your lifestyle for better blood pressure and health.

Ways to lower your blood pressure include:

  • losing weight, if you’re overweight.
  • being more physically active.
  • limiting your alcohol intake.
  • quitting smoking.
  • eating healthy foods, and reducing your salt (sodium) intake.
  • modifying your potassium intake after discussion with your doctor.

Manage your blood pressure levels using the blood pressure action plan. 

Cholesterol and heart attack

Too much cholesterol in the blood over time can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Work with your doctor and use this action plan to manage high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that your body produces naturally and is carried around in your blood.

 It is generally better if you have lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and triglycerides, and higher HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. This is especially true if you have coronary heart disease or are at risk of getting cardiovascular disease.

If you have coronary heart disease, we generally recommend:

  • LDL cholesterol less than 1.8 mmol/L
  • HDL cholesterol greater than 1.0 mmol/L
  • Fasting triglycerides less than 2.0 mmol/L.
  • Talk with your doctor about what your cholesterol and triglycerides should be.

Use the cholesterol and triglycerides action plan to manage your cholesterol levels.

Keeping cholesterol low

Talk with your doctor about what your cholesterol and triglycerides should be.

Keep your cholesterol low

  1. Take cholesterol-lowering medicines as your doctor directs. Statins are recommended for almost everyone with heart disease, even if your cholesterol is not elevated.
  2. Heathy eating helps lower cholesterol, especially eating less saturated and trans fats and replacing them with healthier fats.
  3. Be physically active.

Read more about blood cholesterol and what causes high cholesterol.

Managing diabetes

Managing diabetes is easier when you have a plan. Use this action plan designed for heart attack survivors to help you.

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