According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. In fact, it’s the cause of one in four male deaths. Even scarier, more than half of men who suddenly die from a coronary artery disease had no previous symptoms.
There are a few reasons why heart disease affects so many men. For starters, being male is a risk factor. Second, as men age, they have lower levels of testosterone, which naturally increases risk of cardiovascular disease. Men also tend to carry more abdominal fat and experience higher levels of stress.
Additional risk factors include:
- High cholesterol
- Poor nutrition
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Drinking too much alcohol
Although many men do not experience symptoms, they may experience chest pain, shortness of breath or fatigue. Because heart disease often has no symptoms, the best way to catch it during its earliest – and most treatable – stages is to check in with your primary care physician on an annual basis for a complete physical exam, as well as cholesterol and blood sugar screenings.
Other tips to help prevent heart disease include:
- Avoid smoking – To help people quit smoking, Edward-Elmhurst Health offers smoking cessation classes.
- Eat a healthy diet – Aim to eat whole foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat. A good diet to try is the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes veggies, fruit, olive oil, fish and seafood. Another option is the DASH diet, which emphasizes veggies, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry and fish.
- Get regular exercise – The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. To improve cardiovascular health, include a mix of both aerobic and strength training.
- Reduce stress – Being able to express yourself emotionally can help lower stress, so make sure you have a good support system that includes family and friends.
Edward-Elmhurst Health is committed to helping men achieve their best health. Our goal is to not just treat heart disease, but also to prevent it. One way we do this is by offering a leading-edge heart scan that helps detect coronary artery disease in just 15 minutes.
We also offer Lifestyle Under Construction – a 12-week program that helps people lose weight as well as improve their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. While working with a nurse, dietician and exercise physiologist, participants learn how to prepare healthy food and exercise right.