Facts All Men Should Know About Heart Disease
Heart disease is admittedly not a fun dinnertime topic, but it’s a serious issue that men (and women) should be aware of. According to Healthline.com, heart disease is “one of the leading health risks facing men today,” and that more than 1 in 3-men has it.
Heart disease symptoms can differ from men and women, and men tend to have heart attacks at an earlier age than their female counterparts. However, heart attacks are only 1-component of heart disease, which covers a wider variety of heart ailments. Let’s look at 12 facts men should take to heart…
1. Defining Heart Disease
As we noted, heart disease is an “umbrella term” that covers a number of heart conditions, explains Healthline. These conditions include heart failure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, angina, and other heart-related infections or birth defects, it adds.
The source adds that not all heart diseases will present obvious symptoms, and that you might have it and not know it. However, knowing risk factors is a big help, so we’ll look at that next…
2. Risk Factors For Heart Disease
Healthline also says a high number of men are at risk for developing heart disease, because a relatively small percentage meet the guidelines for physical activity. The source also cites stats from the American Heart Association that says almost 73-percent of American males aged 20-or older are overweight or obese, which is a risk factor in itself.
Other risk factors for developing heart disease include eating a diet high in saturated fat, abusing alcohol, having high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure (hypertension), it adds.
3. Exclusive Risk Factors For Men: Erectile Dysfunction
Just like there are exclusive heart disease risk factors for women, men also face certain unique risks. According to John Hopkins Medicine, not being able to maintain an erection could be a sign that there’s another problem.
The source explains that arterial problems show up in the penis years before they show up in the heart, so erectile dysfunction could be a precursor to heart problems. In fact, according to the source, men in their 40s who have erectile problems (and no other cardiovascular risk factors) have an 80-percent chance of having heart problems within 10-years.
4. Exclusive Risk Factors For Men: Stress/Anger
Stress can literally be deadly for men, adds John Hopkins Medicine. It says that stress, anger and anxiety boost blood pressure and stress hormones, which can in turn restrict flow of blood to the heart.
The source warns that in the first 2-hours following an “angry outburst,” a man’s risk of having a heart attack is almost 5-times higher and your risk of stroke is 3-times higher.
5. Exclusive Risk Factors For Men: Low Testosterone
There’s more to low testosterone than a decreased libido, according to the same source. It notes that low levels of this hormone are now being linked more often to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The source says research is uncovering that low testosterone “can be considered a cardiovascular and metabolic risk factor.”
Metabolic syndrome, meanwhile, can mean high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and too much belly fat, which can in turn raise risk for heart disease, it adds.
6. Early Symptoms As a Warning: Arrhythmias
There are symptoms less dramatic than a heart attack that can be your body warning you about heart troubles, says Healthline. Unfortunately, a serious episode is often the first sign there’s a problem, it adds.
The early stages of heart disease can be more like “annoyances” that come and go, says the source. If you have arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) you might notice you’re out of breath climbing the stairs, or a lingering sense of discomfort in your chest (that lasts from 30-minutes to a few hours), it says. You may also have “unexplained” pain in your upper torso, as well as your neck and jaw, it adds.
7. Early Symptoms As a Warning: Blood Vessels
If you have heart disease affecting blood vessels, then you may notice telltale signs such as chest pain (commonly referred to as angina), pain or swelling in your extremities, or extreme fatigue, it adds.
These symptoms might mean your blood vessels have narrowed as a result of “plaque” buildup, which makes it harder for your heart to get oxygenated blood around your body, it adds. Having high blood pressure will “significantly” increase heart disease risk, but there are seldom signs of hypertension.
8. Heart Attack Symptoms
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll clutch your chest and fall over, like the common stereotype of a heart attack. You may experience pressure or squeezing in the chest that indicates a heart attack – it’s not always textbook pain, says Healthline. You could also notice discomfort in your arms, back, neck, and even your jaw, it adds.
You may also have other warning signs of a heart attack, which include shortness of breath, sweating for no reason, nausea, and a lightheaded feeling, adds the source.
9. Stroke Symptoms
A stroke typically only affects 1-side of your body, with numbness in your face, arms, or legs, explains Healthline. A stroke can also cause confusion, trouble verbalizing words, or sudden vision changes, it adds.
Stroke, which shares many of the risk factors of heart disease, can also come with an “intense headache,” adds the source. Since these stroke symptoms can strike without warning, it’s important to call 911 as soon as possible if you witness the telltale signs.
10. Heart Disease Diagnosis
Finding heart disease in a patient often begins with a physical exam, explains MedicalNewsToday.com. During the exam, your doctor will be able to hear about any possible symptoms and identify risk factors for heart disease, it adds.
Following the physical, a doctor can order additional tests such as a stress test to see how your heart responds to different levels of activity, explains the source. Medical professionals might also use imaging scans to check for blood blockages, and then determine the exact location of the blockage, it adds. “The method for this is invasive but should not be painful,” it assures.
11. The Long-Term Outlook
Unfortunately, according to Healthline, about 50-percent of men of the men who die from heart disease don’t know they have it. However, with a heart attack or a stroke, what happens next depends heavily on being treated promptly, says the source. “Your ability to recover from one of these events depends on how quickly you receive treatment for them,” it explains.
That means you should seek medical attention if you’re concerned about having any of the aforementioned symptoms, as it can be tough to know for sure you’re having a heart attack. Visit your doctor for checkups even when you’re in good health, adds the source.
12. Reducing The Risk
There’s no surefire way to avoid heart problems, but Men’s Health says there are 2-key factors from lowering your risk of dying from them – namely, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol.
It says that about 70-percent of first-time heart attack victims have high blood pressure, while those with high total cholesterol levels are almost 2-times more likely to develop heart disease.