Let’s start with some facts. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America. More than half a million people die each year from heart disease. More people than that will be negatively affected by heart disease. Significant disability also can result from heart disease.
There are many risk factors for developing heart disease. Some cannot be changed, such as genetics or family history. Luckily, there are some things that can be changed. Here are some recommendations to prevent heart disease in men:
If you are over 18, have your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure puts one at a risk for heart disease and strokes. Thirty percent of men have high blood pressure.
There are a number of ways you can lower your blood pressure, but first, you have to know what your blood pressure is. Blood pressure measurements are almost always taken at a doctor’s office, so you may already have had it checked. Some pharmacies have blood pressure machines available in the store. Alternatively, blood pressure machines can be purchased for the home. These machines are very easy to use.
There are two numbers that are given for a blood pressure reading — a systolic blood pressure and a diastolic blood pressure. The systolic number is usually the number on top (or first) of the diastolic number. The systolic number is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is contracting. The diastolic number is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest. If the systolic number is greater than 120 or if the diastolic number is greater than 80, you should talk to your doctor.
If you are over the age of 35, you should have your cholesterol levels checked. Some people should have their cholesterol level checked earlier if they are at higher risk of having heart disease. High cholesterol levels can be very dangerous and cause heart disease. Cholesterol levels are checked via a simple blood test. Talk to your primary care provider to see whether you would benefit from early screening. Your provider will refer you to a lab for testing, and then can help you interpret the results and develop a plan about what to do next.
Some men over the age of 45 may benefit from taking an aspirin a day. In certain people, taking an aspirin a day can lower your chances of having a heart attack. Taking a new medication is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. Your primary provider can go over the risks and benefits of starting an aspirin regimen and help you to decide if this would be the right thing to do.
About 20 percent of adult men smoke, which can lead to heart disease. Fortunately, quitting helps! The increased risk of heart disease goes down as soon as you quit. So, the longer you are away from cigarettes, the better.
Diet and Exercise
Finally, diet and exercise are often talked about and sometimes the hardest things to change. Increased physical activity and adherence to ahealthy diet help with many things, including your heart. Talk to your doctor about the best way to increase your physical activity and how to change your diet for the better.