I know you mean well, but it’s really easy to slip up when it comes to taking care of your heart. So, let’s talk about a few heart health boo-boos made by men and how to stop making them.
Your car and your heart can take you places, but you have to take the proper maintenance steps. First off:
Schedule A Tune-Up
Too many men keep their cars in better shape than their bodies. Did you know that your doctor can estimate your risk of having a heart attack over the next ten years?
We do this by considering a variety of things including:
- Your Family History
- Your Age
- If you’re a smoker
- Your blood pressure
- Your cholesterol levels
- Your blood sugar
- Your weight
- Any current symptoms you may have
We’re pretty thorough…
Depending on your personal risk factors, you may also need some more testing such as:
➡ A scan of your coronary arteries to check for a buildup of calcium in the arteries. Read about coronary artery calcification here.
Men tend to take a stoic stand when it comes to approaching their risks…And that’s not always in their best interest.
There can be a big gulf between wanting to keep your heart healthy and actually doing the right things to make it happen. It pretty much works that way in all of life. Resolve must be followed by action.
Check out these common heart health boo-boos made by men, and please be honest in assessing if they apply to you.
1. Skipping Preventive Care
Men tend to go to the doctor less often than women for annual checkups.
➡ That means they’re less apt to get important routine tests for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, which are key to assessing heart health.
So, what now? Are you comfortable not knowing, or are you willing to see if any risks are chasing you?
Here’s what I suggest:
1. If you can’t remember your last physical exam, try to get one as soon as possible. And act quickly if you feel something’s “not right.”
2. Are you having trouble getting or maintaining an erection? Have you been telling yourself that it’s all in your head or that it’s due to stress?
➡ Very often impotence has more to do with your heart than your mental state. Most of the time it’s caused primarily by a circulation problem interfering with the blood flow to the penis.
It may be an early sign of damage to the blood vessels of the heart.
How to proceed: Don’t be embarrassed to see a doctor about a possible physical cause for erectile dysfunction. Your evaluation should include an assessment of your overall heart health.
3. Are you thinking you’re too young for a heart attack? Or that if you haven’t had one by now you won’t?
Men with a family history of early heart attack— a close male family member with heart attacks before age 55, or female family member before age 65—may be at higher risk, even as early as their 30s and 40s.
Overall, men develop coronary artery disease 10 years before women do. That means they tend to have heart attacks in their 60’s—for women, it’s in their 70’s.
How to proceed: Whatever your age, start doing what you can to manage your risk factors.
➡ Following a heart-healthy diet
➡ Getting regular exercise
➡ Eating to manage your weight
Women do this too:
➡ Drown their miseries in a bottle –Read about Alcohol And Your Heart Here.
➡ Chain smoke
➡ Work excessively long hours, or
➡ Turn to nachos and potato chips by the bag-full in front of the TV when feeling down.
But guys sometimes do these things to mask depression, a physical condition that’s linked to heart disease. And men are less likely to report depression to their doctor.
How to proceed:
If you’re feeling sad or hopeless, or experiencing changes in the way you eat or sleep—too much or too little—tell your doctor and ask for advice. Read up on your need for sleep here.
5. Mistake #5 is believing you can’t do anything about the health problems that ‘run in the family.’
Many men adopt this fatalistic approach about their father’s, grandparents’ or other relatives’ history of heart disease.
➡ While it’s true that this is one of the risk factors you can’t change—along with age and gender—a great deal can be done to reduce your own odds of a heart event, through lifestyle changes and medications.
How to proceed:
➡ Discuss your family history with your doctor
➡ Get your personal risk assessed with further testing
➡ Ask about the preventive strategies that really work—but of course, the first thing to do is to schedule that checkup!
Learn More Here:
***The entire series can be found under “Quit Smoking” On the menu on the right of this page.