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Heart Disease in Men

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S.—it causes about 1 in every 4 male deaths each year. In Frederick County, it’s the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Did you know the term “heart disease” refers to many different heart conditions? The most common occur when there is a buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries. This restricts the supply of blood to the heart. It’s also called coronary artery disease and often leads to heart attacks.

Other forms of heart disease may affect the valves in the heart, or the heart may not pump well and cause heart failure. While most symptoms of heart disease build over time, some people are born with heart disease or inherit it from their family.

During Men’s Health Month, get to know the risk factors, signs and symptoms, and prevention strategies so you can spot and treat heart disease early.

Are You at Risk?

There are many risk factors of heart disease in men:

  • High blood pressure or cholesterol – Both high blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors of heart disease. These can result from a poor diet or family history.
  • Low testosterone – Studies show that testosterone deficiency is common in men with heart disease. Low testosterone levels in men may promote clogged arteries.
  • Erectile dysfunction – There is a very strong link between erectile dysfunction and heart disease. In fact, having erectile dysfunction is as much a risk factor for heart disease as a history of smoking or a family history of heart disease.
  • Diabetes – If you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to have heart disease than someone without diabetes—at a younger age, too. High blood glucose from diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control your heart.
  • Overweight and obesity – Both are linked to hypertension and enlarged left ventricle, increasing your risk of heart failure and heart disease. Being overweight or obese can also cause your cholesterol and blood pressure to rise, both contributing factors of heart disease, and lead to diabetes.
  • Unhealthy diet – Eating foods high in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol are linked to heart disease. Too much salt or sodium can also raise your blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease.
  • Physical inactivity – When you’re inactive, fatty material may build in your arteries. Lack of exercise comes with many heart risks, including blood clots, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Excessive alcohol use – Drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure. Alcohol also contributes to obesity and may weaken the heart muscles.
  • Smoking – Nearly 1 in 4 deaths from heart disease are caused by smoking. Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day may show signs of early heart disease. Smoking causes cells that line the blood vessels to swell. This narrows the blood vessels and leads to heart disease.
  • StressMen who often feel anxious or overwhelmed develop heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol at a faster rate than their less-worried peers.
  • Family history – If an immediate family member had a heart attack or heart disease before the age of 60, your chances of developing heart disease are higher than average. You are more likely to get heart disease if it runs in your family.
  • Age – The risk for heart disease increases as you age. The average age for a heart attack in men is 64.5, but heart disease can happen at any age.
  • Snoring – One in 5 adults have at least a mild form of sleep apnea. If not treated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?

Sometimes heart disease in men may remain silent and undiagnosed until they experience a significant event like a heart attack or heart failure. These are the signs and symptoms of heart disease:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Chest pain, tightness, pressure, discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in arms and legs
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back

If you think you are having a heart attack or heart failure, call 911 immediately. Every second counts. Getting help as soon as possible increases your chances of survival and decreases damage to the heart.

What Can You Do to Prevent Heart Disease?

There are many lifestyle steps you can take now to reduce your chances of developing heart disease.

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of heart disease or may be at risk, contact Frederick Health today. Our heart care experts offer the best possible cardiac care in a state-of-the-art, advanced facility. They can provide follow-up tests and immediate services to get you the answers and care you need.

We’re right here.