We love men with heart. Big-hearted fellas who man the ship and mind the gaps and empty the dishwasher without being asked. Of course, all men have heart – that’s what makes them (and women) tick. But unfortunately, one in three of you guys out there have an unhealthy heart, according to the American Heart Association. And that’s a startling, and heartbreaking, statistic. Some other facts that cause our heart to skip a beat:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of all racial/ethnic groups* in the United States. In 2013, that comes to 321,000 men dying from heart disease, or 1 in every 4 male deaths. (*except Asian American men, for whom it is second behind cancer.)
- About 8.5% of all white men, 7.9% of black men, and 6.3% of Mexican American men have coronary heart disease.
- Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
- Between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men.
It follows, of course, that men also have the greatest risk factors for heart disease, and note that the term “heart disease” includes conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, angina, and a host of heart-related infections, irregularities and many others. The fact that only about 25 percent of men meet the federal guidelines for physical activity (according to Health.gov), and that in 2015 some 205 million American men were obese, and more than 20 percent of men are smokers, certainly contributes to these dire and disturbing numbers.
Don’t Miss These Warning Signs
That third bullet above is a particularly scary one. While nearly half of men who have a sudden heart attack may be unaware that they have heart disease, there are some red flags that can signal that trouble is brewing. According to the American Heart Association, early stages of heart disease may include the following signs and symptoms:
- Feeling winded and out of breath after moderate exercise, such as climbing stairs
- A feeling of achiness or squeezing in the chest that can last 30 minutes or longer
- Unexplained pain or tingling in the upper extremities
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices put people (men and women) at a higher risk for heart disease, including snoring and sleep apnea, which are correlated with heart disease. Other risk factors include:
- Overweight and obesity, especially excess belly fat
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
Heart Attack Signs in Men
Key signs of a heart attack for men include discomfort in the neck, back, abdomen or jaw. In addition, when a heart attack is occurring, it can cause shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness and even nausea. As we noted in an earlier blog post, signs of heart attack can be different for women but men typically fit this traditional profile.
Of course, it’s far better to prevent a heart attack than to know how to recognize one. The best way to protect against heart disease is to be prepared in advance. See your doctor regularly, monitor or manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, get regular exercise and adequate sleep, and eat a balanced and healthy diet while refraining from smoking and moderating the intake of alcohol and caffeine.
If you feel you may be at risk for developing heart disease and need a doctor, call (843) 402-CARE for a free doctor referral.