June is Men’s Health Month, and the perfect time to grow awareness of heart disease and other preventable health issues. Since heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., men are encouraged to seek regular medical care and early treatment if necessary. At Windward Heart, our team is dedicated to helping you live a long, healthy and happy life. Many health conditions don’t discriminate, but unfortunately for men, heart disease is one of them. While there are certainly women who suffer from the lifelong health condition, it’s typically males who are the target. But why?
The Male Disadvantage
There are several reasons that men are more prone to heart disease, but two of the most common factors include physical stress and abdominal fat. While it’s true that both men and women can experience stressful situations, men typically endure more physical stress over their lifetime. Since expressing emotions in the workplace isn’t the most socially acceptable, many men carry added emotional stress that may play a contributing role in heart disease.
It’s no surprise that obesity can put you at risk for many health conditions, including heart disease, but did you know that where you carry your extra fat is even more important than how much you carry? If you hold your added weight in your abdominal area, also known as being apple shaped, you are more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even type II diabetes.
What Exactly is Heart Disease?
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a condition that affects the heart and blood vessels. This disease can cause numerous problems, most of which relate to plaque build-up on the artery walls. When this happens, the arteries begin to narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow through. If the arteries narrow too much, a blood clot may form and stop blood flow entirely. As a result, you may experience a heart attack or stroke.
Heart attack. If a blood clot cuts off the entire blood flow, the part of the heart that is supplied by that artery will begin to die off. Suffering a heart attack can be a frightening experience, and often requires medications and lifestyle changes for a successful recovery. Although most people survive their first heart attack and return to a normal life, it’s still a serious matter that should not be taken lightly.
Stroke. When a clot forms in the blood vessel that feeds your brain, it may result in a stroke. The lack of blood and oxygen to the brain cells can quickly lead to the loss of everyday functions, like walking and talking. Once these cells are dead, they cannot be regenerated, which can result in permanent brain damage to your strength, speech and memory. If you’re lucky, some brain cells are only temporarily damaged during a stroke and your lost motor skills may improve over time.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for coronary heart disease. Once you have it, your arteries will remain damaged for life and the condition of your blood vessels will worsen over time. No one wants to experience a heart attack or stroke, so it’s important to get evaluated by a doctor to determine if there are any abnormalities. Although there’s no way to completely rid yourself from it, small daily habits can make a giant improvement in your overall heart health.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
Living with heart disease doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying life. By making changes to your lifestyle, you can ensure optimal heart health for many years to come. To lower the risks associated with heart disease, a nutritious diet and active lifestyle are key.
Improve your diet. Creating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and legumes will help to prevent the risks of heart disease. Choosing meals that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium is also an important step. Many people even add in supplements, like fish oil and CoQ10, to enhance their overall health. If you find you need assistance in your journey, Windward Heart offers heart healthy diet care to ensure optimal health.
Move your body. Aging often brings about a more sedentary lifestyle. After all, it is comfortable to stay in and watch your favorite shows. But staying active is even more important as you grow older, especially if you are living with heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, adults should practice 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical aerobic activity, like brisk walking, per week. Vigorous intense activities, like jogging or running, for about 75 minutes per week is also acceptable way to reduce your overall risk. Additionally, adults should include at least two days a week of strength training exercises.
If you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations, our compassionate team at Windward Heart can help. Dr. Wong has been working in the cardiac field for more than 30 years and makes it his everyday duty to provide care and education to his patients.
Our team offers treatment, tests and services for all your heart health needs. High blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral artery disease—we can care for it all. By providing a full set of diagnostic tests on the heart, Dr. Wong and the team are also able to check for early warning signs of disease, heart attack or stroke.
Your heart is a vital organ, so managing it is important. At Windward Heart, we can take care of you and your individual needs. Set up a consultation with us today by calling 808-261-2441.