Health Advice



Taking your second chances to heart

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Jill A. Davis, a writer for the original "David Letterman Show," who went on to become a bestselling novelist, points out that, "Second chances do come your way. Like trains, they arrive and depart regularly. Recognizing the ones that matter is the trick."

Unfortunately, it's a trick that not many of the 605,000 Americans who are recovering from their first heart attack in any given year seem to have mastered. And that has a lot to do with why 200,000 people annually experience a second heart attack.

A recent study says that after a first heart attack, folks' risk factors for a repeat attack, such as elevated blood glucose, blood pressure and body mass index, as well as smoking, lack of physical activity and poor diet, are all increasingly prevalent. Even when there have been improvements -- ideal LDL cholesterol levels among folks with cardiovascular disease rose from 7% to 30% between 2015-2018 -- 70% of folks are still far away from healthy levels. Ideal LDL may be less than 40 mg/dL if you've had a heart attack.

If you've survived your first heart attack, take advantage of your second chance for a healthier, longer life.

-- Do cardiac rehab: It reduces the risk for a repeat heart attack by 47%.

-- Embrace a plant-based diet: no red meats, no added sugars or highly processed foods.

-- Get regular physical activity.

-- Quit smoking: check out


-- Take your medications as prescribed.

-- Stay connected to friends, family and organizations that support you. Isolation is a big risk factor for a second heart attack.


Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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