Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Vegetables being prepared

Vegetables being prepared
beginning of content

Staying healthy when you have a heart condition

4-minute read

If you have a heart condition, it's important to stay as healthy as possible. You can look after your heart by having a healthy lifestyle. It’s never too late to start.

What is a healthy diet?

A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of healthy foods to help manage your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Everyone should eat a healthy diet, but it’s particularly important if you have heart problems.

The Heart Foundation recommends:

Are you at risk?

Find out if you're at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease using our Risk Checker.
  • eating fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds every day
  • making healthy fat choices by eating nuts, seeds, avocadoes and olives, and cooking with their oils
  • eat a variety of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts or seeds, or legumes each day eating 6 or 7 eggs a week
  • reducing sugary snacks and other treats — for tips to help you with this, see How to cut down on sugar
  • choosing reduced fat dairy foods, including milk, cheese and yoghurt. Make sure they don't have any added sugar
  • using herbs and spices as flavourings, instead of salt
  • drinking water

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean diet are good examples of heart-healthy diets.

How to be active after heart disease

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of further heart problems by helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure and weight. Exercise can also improve your confidence and sense of well-being.

Brisk walking is usually safe for most people, but talk to your doctor before starting to exercise if you have a heart condition. It’s easier to exercise regularly if you enjoy it, so build it into your daily routine. Walking with friends or joining a walking group can help to keep you motivated.

Every bit of exercise helps. Ideally, adults should have regular, moderate-intensity activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Here are some tips for getting started with exercise.

Smoking and heart disease

If you smoke, quit. If you’d like support, the Quit Now website provides advice. You can call the Quitline on 13 7848.

Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits, reducing your risk of breathing problems, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. People who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another one by 50% compared to those who keep smoking.

Alcohol and heart disease

If you drink alcohol, it’s important to stay within the recommended limits to protect your body. Drinking beyond the recommended limits increases the risk of heart disease.

Whether you can continue drinking alcohol with a heart condition depends on the nature of your condition, other aspects of your health, and any medicine you may be taking. It’s best to get your doctor’s advice.

Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a specialised service to help you recover from your heart condition and get back to normal activities. Health professionals teach you how to manage your condition and support you in making healthy lifestyle changes. Ask your doctor to refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation service.

Further information

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Heart Healthy Eating Patterns

This position statement describes the characteristics of heart healthy eating patterns to improve cardiovascular health.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Healthy living [CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH] | Jean Hailes

Jean Hailes for Women's Health provides trustworthy, evidence-based information on physical and emotional wellbeing to women and health professionals including issues such as ageing well, bone health, early/premature menopause, managing menopause and polycystic ovary/ovarian syndrome.

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Nuts in a healthy diet -

Nuts provide protein and are a source of dietary fibre as well as contributing many vitamins and minerals. Many studies show nuts are beneficial to health, especially heart health.

Read more on myDr website

Cardiovascular Health | Nutrition Australia

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term used to describe all diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease (which includes heart attacks and angina) and stroke are common forms of CVD.

Read more on Nutrition Australia website

Healthy eating | The Heart Foundation

A healthy diet includes a variety of food groups and reduces the risk of heart disease. This means eating fresh healthy foods instead of processed and packaged foods.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

The avocado | The Heart Foundation

Avocado benefits and nutrition facts. Learn why avocado is good for the heart.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Healthy fats | The Heart Foundation

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6) fats are healthy fats. Eating more healthy fats like these helps increase the good (HDL) cholesterol in your diet.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Healthy eating after a heart attack | The Heart Foundation

Its's never too late to start eating healthier. Read our tips and information for a healthy diet after a heart attack.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Aboriginal Health | The Heart Foundation

Heart health information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Type 1 diabetes and healthy eating | Diabetes NSW & ACT

Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as sticking to a healthy diet, can help you to live well with diabetes & minimise the risk of complications.

Read more on Diabetes NSW and ACT website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo