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For Father's Day, keep one's heart in mind

Published in Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It Author: Bill C. Tran, MD

Father’s Day is a good time to reflect on men’s health. As the leading cause of death for American men — heart disease may be the most important issue in men’s health at this time.

While heart disease is the leading cause among women, too, men are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Consider the following:

  • In general, men experience heart disease earlier than women. On average, a man experiences a first heart attack at age 65, whereas it is 72 in women.
  • Men have higher rates of alcohol consumption and smoking. Compared to women the same age, men also have higher rates of high blood pressure before age 45.
  • 50 percent men who die suddenly of heart disease don’t show any symptoms of the condition. Therefore, it’s important everyone recognizes the signs of a heart attack (see below) and to call 911 if someone you are with experiences these symptoms.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

  • Chest discomfort that can be described as a pressure, squeezing or burning sensation that sometimes can be confused with indigestion
  • Discomfort can extend into shoulder, jaw, arms or back
  • Can be associated with shortness of breath, nausea or diffuse sweating
  • Can appear gray, ashen or pale

When it comes to preventing heart disease, look at the following heart disease risk factors and which impact you.

  • Your health history – Having diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increases your chances of heart disease. One in three American adults has high blood pressure. But among those with the condition, only 20 percent are aware of it. If you don’t know your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to get an accurate status of your health.
  • Your family history – Some of the same conditions mentioned above can be passed down from one generation to the next. If you have a family member who had a heart attack or heart disease, talk with a provider about your own risk.
  • Your behavior – Mark Twain once said “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” With this in mind, obesity, smoking, eating a diet high in fats and cholesterol, not exercising and drinking too much (more than one drink per day for women, or more than two drinks per day for a man) all can increase your personal risk of heart disease. Identify what behaviors you struggle with and commit to make positive changes. Your health is worth it!

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Discover your heart score and get tips for improvement with the American Heart Association's online tool.

Based on your answers, you can determine if you are:

  • High Risk (Score 1-3) - Strongly consider taking steps to improve your lifestyle choices. We encourage you to make an appointment with your provider.
  • Medium Risk (Score 4-7) - You're making some good choices. Find ways to make more. We can help! Experts in our cardiac wellness program can work with you one-to-one to help you lower your risk of heart disease. Learn more
  • Low Risk (Score 8-10) - You're doing well, but keep an eye out for adjustments to strengthen your position. Sign up for our e-newsletter to get monthly tips for improving your heart health.

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