Editor’s note: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. If you believe you have high blood pressure or any other sign or symptom of heart disease, please see a licensed healthcare professional in person.
Heart attacks and heart disease are considered the number one serial killer in the United States to this date. And while everybody generally blames smoking, alcohol consumptions, unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles as main contributing factors to cardiac diseases, there are plenty of other subtle components of the larger “heart problems” pictures.
One thing that many people don’t know is that there are significant differences between men and women when it comes to heart diseases and coronary illnesses. According to recent statistics, heart diseases impact 12% of men under 40 and around 40% of men under 60.
The problem is that between 70% and 90% of sudden cardiac events occur in men and half the men who die out of a sudden cardiac event had no previous symptoms. In other words, even if you eliminated some of the most common risk factors that may lead to cardiac diseases it doesn’t mean you are at no risk of heart issues. This is why we will take a closer look at seven solid facts that all men should know about their hearts and pay attention to.
1. Your heart is anatomically different from that of a woman.
Men and women are different and that is a good thing. But given the anatomical differences between a man’s heart and a woman’s, you need to know that your heart is larger and heavier and presents larger arteries’ openings. The upside of this is that you have better chances to a successful heart surgery than a woman. Also, your heart being larger, men are more likely to be compatible donors to women’s heart transplants.
2. Your cholesterol might be the silent enemy.
Men commonly know that poor diets, alcohol consumption and cholesterol associated with bad dieting are the obvious enemies of their hearts. However, what men should know is that you may have the bad cholesterol as a genetic trait. You may live a balanced lifestyle and keep away from all major cholesterol sources, but sometimes you will never know how high your cholesterol levels are unless you specifically test for them. One common misconception among men is that as long as they are thin and athletic, they don’t have any HDL problems. The issue with inherited cholesterol is that if you don’t test it, you will likely find out only when it is too late. This is why doctors recommend you to get a cholesterol screen once in a few years to keep everything in check.
3. Men are more likely to suffer a cardiac event earlier in life.
Statistically speaking, men tend to suffer from a cardiac event ten years earlier than women do, mostly in their thirties and forties. This comes as a corollary at what has been stated earlier: cholesterol screening is of the essence, as young men tend to ignore their health issues (symptomatic or not), relying on their young age and the strength coming with it. Unfortunately, heart diseases, heart attacks and even strokes have a larger incidence in your men than women. The upside of this is that if your cardiac event is treatable, you have better chances of recovery.
4. Young men are just as vulnerable to high blood pressure as older men.
Commonly, high blood pressure is an issue men over the age of 45 get concerned with. Young males in their thirties tend to ignore this problem, knowing that they have at least 15-20 years ahead of them. However, recent findings show that young men are also risking high blood pressure in their prime years with the added misfortune of not showing any symptom at all. Specialists say that 1 in 3 male Americans suffer from high blood pressure and don’t even know it. Before the age of 45 HBP affects more men than women, while after the age of 45 it affects more women than men. Also, young African-American males are more likely to develop HBP during their youth years and all men having an obesity family history should get their blood pressure checked regularly.
5. If you are engaged in athletic and sports activities you should double check your heart.
Men love to workout, run marathons and give their 110% for the team. There is a powerful sports culture we live in and while sedentary lifestyles are blamed for pathological obesity and heart attacks, generally men engage in extreme physical activities with all their hearts. The problem is that strenuous effort is bad for the heart, no matter how much physical activity is professed as a miracle cure for weight loss, lowering cholesterol and boosting heart function. We all know that what is too much is bad for you, so keep in mind that extreme endurance exercises can have the exact negative effect: damage your heart. Even the chilliest of sports requires a pre-examination of your heart.
6. Your red meat steak should be kept under scrutiny.
There is nothing better or more rewarding than a juicy red grilled steak, which, by all intents and purposes, is healthier than any fast food dish or canned food you might indulge in. But red meat comes with its risks as well—and they are not related to the high saturated fats concentrations. Red meat seems to contain some chemicals (choline and carnitine) which get turned into your gut into trimethylamine-N-oxide – which may contribute to the causes of arteriosclerosis (the building of fat that may block your arteries). While nobody says you can’t enjoy your steak or become a vegetarian, you should keep an eye on your daily red meat consumption.
7. Subtle signs may be all the signs you need.
Both men and women no matter their age tend to ignore plenty of health symptoms which seem unrelated to the heart. More actually tend to ignore these symptoms as they link them to “life” problems. However, there are some signs that your heart might be under some stress: dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath when engaged in casual effort – even if you are the fit type of guy –, muscular cramps when walking, running or engaging into sports, you experience migraines (the last night’s party could or not account for), nausea etc. In case you experience such symptoms, don’t blame work, gym exercises, an all-nighter drinking party, sex or other things for them. It is better to check with your doctor and have a differential diagnosis performed.
Young men are vulnerable to heart diseases – and likely the most vulnerable victims of heart attacks. The correct course of action is to get a checkup and an EKG at least once a year, together with other specific screenings in order to make sure your “engine” is up and running in optimal parameters.
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