Visiting the doctor may help men avoid cardiovascular disease

Heart disease, stroke leading causes of death for men

The June 2014 Men’s Health Month has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean guys should stop paying attention to their health.

Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, stroke, and vascular disease, is a leading health threat for men. Many of the signs are often not seen without proactively visiting the doctor.

What should men being doing regularly for their health?

It’s important for men  to visit the doctor regularly — whether you feel ill or healthy.

Men should have their blood pressure checked, they should make sure certain vaccinations are up to date — like tetanus and pertussis — and they also need their lipids screened, including “good” and “bad” cholesterol.

The key is being proactive about preventive health maintenance.

There are some individuals who may feel great, but their blood pressure is sky high or their cholesterol levels are off the charts.

What are the most common health conditions in men under 50?

It’s not at all uncommon to see higher blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar in younger men — which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

As men reach their 40’s, high cholesterol and blood pressure are common. In fact, more than 50 million people in the United States have hypertension — another word for high blood pressure.

Men may also have issues with blood sugar, which could develop into pre-diabetes or even diabetes, which can lead to heart disease.

Are there red flags men should look for?

It can be difficult to notice warning signings because there are a wide range of medical conditions that don’t cause symptoms. High blood pressure and high cholesterol don’t necessarily cause symptoms to alert you to go to the doctor, especially early on. That’s why being proactive about seeing the doctor is important.

But there are some conditions you may want to talk to your doctor about. One to watch for is heartburn. It is often dismissed as just being heartburn, but it could be related to heart disease.

Another common issue that sometimes men are afraid to bring up is erectile dysfunction. That can also be a red flag for cardiovascular disease. So that’s an important thing to bring up with your doctor.

Improve your health — Stop smoking

Almost 20 percent of the deaths from heart disease are directly related to smoking cigarettes. But it’s not too late to stop and reduce your risk.

There are studies that have shown that men in their 70s can benefit from stopping smoking, even after smoking all of their lives. It’s important for their lung functionality, capacity, and reduces their risk for cardiovascular disease and cancers.

There are also a significant number of men who smoke who could take advantage of smoking cessation therapies, which have advanced and become more effective. If you are ready to quit, talk to your doctor about the best treatment path to follow.

How to improve your health

  • Quit smoking.
    Smoking is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancers and a host of other serious chronic diseases.
  • Get good quality sleep.
    Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Alot of men think they don’t need as much and tend to think they function just as well with little sleep — but studies consistently show that is not the case.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
    Sometimes we are guilty of not getting enough fruits and vegetables in the diet. But vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, which have been proven to lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Exercise regularly.
    You should be active for 30 minutes a day, five to six days a week. Exercise is anything that gets your heart rate elevated, but there are things you can do so that you’re not uncomfortable. For example — if it’s summer, why not take advantage of the weather and go for a swim?
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
    As cholesterol levels rise, your risk for heart disease also goes up. A lipid panel is your first step. It’s then important to talk to your doctor about how to lower your cholesterol.
  • Keep a healthy work-life balance.
    Try to keep stress at bay so it’s not a burden on your health.

Improving your health can ultimately help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.





Vimal George, MD, ADC Family Practice About the Author

Dr. Vimal George is a Family Practice physician seeing patients at ADC's Steiner Ranch clinic in West Austin. Read more about him on his biography page.