How to Trim Men’s Heart Disease Risk

by Dr. Hojat Askari, Founder and Medical Director, Thumb Butte Medical Center

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women every year but it is more prevalent in men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. One-quarter of male deaths every year are attributable to heart attacks or related cardiac events versus one of every five deaths in women.

What’s more, the CDC says half of all men who die suddenly of cardiac disease every year reported no prior symptoms.

This may be partly due to men being less likely to see a physician regularly, along with women being at lower risk before menopause. It’s critical for men to push back against this tendency while embracing a healthy lifestyle.

Men need to be able to identify the symptoms of a severe cardiac episode even as they work to prevent one from happening. These include:

  • Heart attack — Chest pain or discomfort, neck and upper back pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea or vomiting.
  • Heart failure (chronic condition cause by weakened heart) — Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen or veins in the neck.
  • Arrhythmia — Palpitations or sensations of fluttering in the chest.

Preventing or managing heart disease:

  • Know your risks — These can stem from genetic factors and/or lifestyle issues such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking. These risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes or prediabetes, high cholesterol and chronic stress or depression.
  • Choose nutritious foods — Get your protein from a variety of plant- and animal-based sources while eating plenty of vegetables for vitamins, fiber and other essential nutrients. Reduce or eliminate fast and processed foods, sugar and refined starches, as well as soft drinks and alcohol.
  • Keep moving — get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise four to five days a week, and get up from your chair regularly if you’re sitting for extended periods.
  • Listen to your doctor — If you’re diagnosed with heart disease or at least one risk factor, follow your health care provider’s recommendations on medication and lifestyle changes.