Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States? According to the CDC, one in every four male deaths in the United States is due to a cardiac episode or heart disease. Beyond that, between 70 and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events such as heart attack or cardiac arrest occur in men. Discover how you can help keep your man’s heart healthy in honor of National Heart Month from the experts at UnityPoint Clinic.
Start with Small Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle
Similar to New Year’s resolutions or starting any diet and exercise regimen, it can be overwhelming. You can begin with good intentions and quickly be put out by one bad day or bad meal. Taking small steps and making subtle changes over time makes the process of living a healthier lifestyle easier. Once one change has become a habit, add another: the little things add up to a healthier life!
Encourage Him to Get His Checkup
Just like men often don’t like to ask for directions, they sometimes overlook their annual physical with their primary care doctor. Regular examinations monitor cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and many other factors. Their doctor can detect risk factors and warning signs for heart disease early and help prevent serious problems before they occur.
Plan Healthier Meals
A healthy diet has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, cardiac arrest and heart attacks. This is due in part to many of the diseases that are linked to heart disease and conditions that are influenced by diet (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes). Help him think before he eats! We know this is easier said than done, but here are a few tips for a heart healthy diet:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables (five or more servings a day): most fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Shift to whole grain: refined grain foods such as white bread and pasta can lead to weight gain. Whole grain is a better source of fiber, vitamins and complex carbohydrates. He can still enjoy his favorite dishes -- just switch to whole grain!
- Consider healthier protein sources: try to avoid proteins that are high in fat such as duck, goose, prime cuts of steak, sausage and processed lunch meat like hot dogs.
For more tips on a healthy diet, click here.
Encourage Him to Exercise
Approximately fifty percent of men do not regularly get enough exercise; with physical inactivity being a significant risk factor for heart disease, this is a trend that needs to end. Men and women alike often find excuses to skip the gym or other forms of exercise. Help break this trend by presenting it as an activity you can both do together. Whether it is going for a walk after dinner or playing with the kids, exercise does not have to be a chore. Find an activity you both like to do so exercise does not feel like work!
Focus on Why His Heart Health is Important
Asking him to make all these healthy changes can push him away or lead to arguments. Remind him why his heart health is essential! Whether it’s to live longer and see his grandkids get married, to go on that second honeymoon, or whatever milestone is important to him, this will help motivate him to make heart-healthy changes and stick with them.
UnityPoint Clinic Can Help!
Don’t know where to start? Let the physicians at UnityPoint Clinic help point him in the right direction. After assessing his risk of heart disease, a provider can make personalized suggestions for where to start and what risk factors he is susceptible to. Learn more about family medicine at UnityPoint Clinic!