Heart disease: the cause of death for 1 in 4 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). While men and women are both at risk, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of all racial groups. Why are men’s hearts in such danger, and what can you do to protect yourself or your loved one?
What is heart disease?
Heart disease encompasses numerous complications, several of which relate to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. The plaque accumulation makes it more difficult for blood to pass through, which can cause clotting and possibly even a heart attack or stroke.
What are the risk factors?
Risk factors for heart disease may vary from person to person, but all affect how well blood pumps to and from the heart. One main risk factor is high blood pressure, which is defined as too much force in the arteries as the heart pumps blood. There are often no signs of high blood pressure, making it difficult to diagnose in time. Fortunately, medication and healthy lifestyle changes can help control blood pressure.
Tobacco, obesity, and diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol all contribute to heart disease. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising on a regular basis, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol are your best weapons against heart disease.
What are some tips for preventing heart disease?
While it’s important to eat well and exercise at any age, tips for preventing heart disease differ depending on you or your loved one’s stage of life. The American Heart Association suggests the following tips:
Men in their 20s
- Find a doctor and schedule an annual wellness exam. Starting heart-health screenings now will make you aware of what is considered normal versus abnormal.
- Exercise regularly, but change up your routine to spice things up.
- Kick the habit of smoking and stay away from environments with secondhand smoke.
Men in their 30s
- Know your family history and talk to your doctor about your findings.
- Include your family in your healthy living routine. Cooking healthy meals together, taking afternoon bike rides, and shooting hoops are all heart-healthy activities.
- Learn how to manage your stress properly. Deep breathing, taking up a hobby, or spending time in nature are all excellent stress relievers.
Men in their 40s
- Keep an eye on your weight as your metabolism begins to slow down. Staying active and consuming a healthy diet is more important than ever at this stage of life.
- Address your snoring habit. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing to stop during sleep. Sleep apnea can also contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Men in their 50s+
- Learn the warning signs and symptoms associated with heart attacks and strokes. While chest pain is a warning sign of a heart attack, pain in the arms, jaw, neck, back and stomach are also considered symptoms. Nausea and shortness of breath are also common.
- Remain adherent to your medications and continue your healthy lifestyle.
Whether you’re in your 20s or your 80s, it’s important to understand the risks of heart disease and how it can affect you or your loved one’s health. Get to the heart of the problem and start preventing heart disease today.
UnityPoint Health — Trinity Cares about Your Heart
With February being heart month, we want to encourage you to protect your heart at any age. Our Heart Center’s personalized cardiovascular care treatment integrates services including diagnosis and prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation to effectively care for you and your heart, no matter what stage it’s in. Contact us today to learn more.
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