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

5-minute read

How do I stay healthy?

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

To keep your heart healthy, it is important to:

You can read more on the Heart Foundation website or call them on 13 11 12.

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 is particularly important if you have heart problems.

The Heart Foundation recommends:

A heart-healthy diet includes a variety of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts or seeds, or legumes each day, and 6 or 7 eggs a week.

You should aim to reduce sugary snacks and other treats — for tips to help you with this, see How to cut down on sugar. Choose reduced fat dairy foods, including milk, cheese and yoghurt. Make sure they do not have any added sugar. Water is the best drink.

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

ARE YOU AT RISK? — Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease? Use our Risk Checker to find out.

How can I remain 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 is 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 would 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 is 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 is 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.

More information

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

Last reviewed: January 2021


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Eating for a healthy heart

Read more on Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute website

Healthy living | Jean Hailes

Healthy eating, managing your weight, exercise, trying to move more and sit less can all help support your cardiovascular health. Smoking is not great…

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Keeping your heart healthy | The Heart Foundation 

Learn why keeping your heart healthy is so important and get practical tips on living a heart healthy lifestyle. Read simple ways to protect your heart now.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

What’s the best type of fat for a healthy heart? - Dietitians Australia

Healthy Eating What’s the best type of fat for a healthy heart? What’s the best type of fat for a healthy heart? There’s a lot of confusion about fats

Read more on Dietitians Australia website

Cholesterol - healthy eating tips - Better Health Channel

betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Wholegrains and heart health | The Heart Foundation

What are wholegrains and why are they essential to your health? Get the lowdown on the types of grains, and how to eat your way to a healthy heart

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Nuts in a healthy diet - MyDr.com.au

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

The low-down on Paleo – Welcome to our three part series on the Palaeolithic diet. - Dietitians Australia

Healthy Eating The low-down on Paleo – Welcome to our three part series on the Palaeolithic diet

Read more on Dietitians Australia website

While you are sleeping

Sleep your way to health. Your body doesn't switch off when you shut your eyes – it's working for your mood, weight loss and overall wellbeing. Here's how: Sleep is as essential as keeping fit and eating well. Sleep is the third part of a healthy lifestyle along with healthy eating and regular exercise. Sleep p

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Food and nutrition | enableme - stroke recovery and support

Eating a healthy diet is important in stroke recovery, and in preventing further strokes. Find information and tips to aid your recovery

Read more on Stroke Foundation 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 Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo