Even after menopause, when women’s death rate from heart disease increases, women's death rate is still not as great as men’s death rate. What’s a man to do? Here’s an approach that can significantly improve well-being and lower the risk of heart disease. Ladies, take note. The men in your life may need to read this.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Drawing on the results of extensive clinical and statistical studies, the AHA has identified six factors that can be modified or treated to reduce the risk of a heart attack. The more factors you have, and the greater the level of each one, the greater the risk. Here are six risk factors:
Tobacco smoke—Smokers are at twice the risk of heart attack as nonsmokers. Even constantly breathing secondhand smoke increases risk.
High blood cholesterol—Cholesterol levels are affected by age, gender, heredity and diet. As the level rises, so does the risk. Studies show that in men, high LDL (bad cholesterol) increases the risk of developing heart disease more than a low HDL (good cholesterol). Everyone should know their cholesterol level and talk with their doctor about it.
High blood pressure—The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart has to work and the more at risk you are. Your doctor can help you keep track of your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level.
Physical inactivity—Exercise is wonderful for your heart! One study found that men who walked less than 1/4 mile a day had twice the heart disease risk of those who walked at least 1 1/2 miles a day. The more regular and vigorous the activity the better, but even moderately intense activity can help control cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and for some people blood pressure.
Obesity and an unhealthy weight—Losing weight can be difficult, but maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good heart health. A doctor can help you find the best way to shed extra pounds.
Diabetes—If you have diabetes, your risk for a heart attack is doubled. Work with your doctor to manage diabetes and control its side effects.
Researchers at the University of Michigan asked 186 men what was their biggest obstacle to achieving a heart-healthy lifestyle, and the number one answer was time! It may be tempting to work late instead of taking a walk, working out or visiting the doctor, but heart health should be a priority.