Men's heart health

By: Donald Nardone, MD, Interventional Cardiology, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Men often will not take the time for self-care, physical activity, and mental health. That’s a concern because they may end up paying for it in the long run.

Physical hobbies, journaling, or getting more sleep are a good start for self-care. But it’s more important to schedule your annual checkup. A check-up helps rule out any health problems like high blood pressure that you may not see or feel. High blood pressure is treatable. Left unchecked, it can lead to heart disease, which accounts for about 1 in every 4 male deaths.

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Reducing Your Risk for Heart Disease

There are many forms of heart disease, including:

  • Arrythmia or abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease).
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Congenital heart disease.
  • Heart failure.

You may not know there’s an issue until complications start so it’s important to see your doctor for regular screenings. You may think you’ll know something is seriously wrong if you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing. Many men are living with subtle symptoms that can be a sign of something more serious, including:

  • Anxiety.
  • Backache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Indigestion.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Nausea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Foot or ankle swelling.

Lack of physical activity is the most common way your health affects your heart and vascular system. The goal is to be active at a moderate intensity level for at least 30 minutes a day. You can meet that goal by taking a walk or riding a bike. Physical activity improves your health and is a great way to boost your mood.

Many heart diseases and conditions are due to unhealthy eating habits. Diabetes, cholesterol levels, and other conditions can overwhelm your heart if you’re not careful. Insurance may cover an appointment with a registered dietitian to go over healthier eating options. Exercising and eating a healthy diet can help manage your weight — and fight heart disease.

Finally, it is best to quit smoking. Men are more likely to be cigarette smokers than women. About 15.3% of adult men are smokers compared to 12.7% of adult women. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. It can:

  • Increase blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Reduce blood flow.
  • Make your blood sticky and more likely to clot.
  • Increase the buildup of fatty substances.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Heart attacks — one of the most common cardiac events in men — can be deadly. Heart attack symptoms may vary from person to person. They can range from showing no signs to sudden, severe symptoms. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you may be experiencing a heart attack:

  • Tightness, pressure, pain, aching or a feeling of fullness in your chest.
  • Chest pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, or arms.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Cold sweats.
  • Feeling generally unwell.

If you think that you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack, call 911. A simple check-up can help prevent future issues and may end up saving your life. Call your doctor today to schedule an appointment to determine your risk for heart disease.

Donald Nardone, MD, is a cardiologist with UPMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute and sees patients at UPMC Williamsport, 740 High St., Williamsport, and UPMC Specialty Care, 2330 Saint Mary St. W., Lewisburg. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nardone, call 570-321-2800. To find heart and vascular care near you, visit our website.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.

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