Men should never take cardiovascular health for granted. Heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPE), and heart failure are just a few cardiovascular conditions that make heart disease the leading cause of death in American men.
While attempting to outsmart cardiovascular disease may feel overwhelming, it can be done
For men, there are necessary steps they can adopt today that may help outmaneuver heart disease. It begins by being aware of five essential steps to improve cardiovascular fitness. These lifestyle changes can significantly reduce their likelihood of dealing with a serious heart health condition in the future. Even for men, who may already have cardiovascular disease, it’s never too late to start.
Below are the five ways men can take control now of improving heart health:
1. Good heart health starts in the kitchen
Eating healthy just makes sense for everyone. Nutritious foods filled with various vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, nourish the body like as no other medication or supplement can. The heart relies on these nutrients for optimal performance. But, a steady diet of low-nutrient, high-fat, high-sugar, or high-sodium foods harms the heart leading to issues like hypertension and clogged arteries. So, men, do yourself and your heart a favor by making wise food choices daily. Not only will your heart thank you, but so will your waistline.
2. Make time for physical activity
Too many men are not obtaining sufficient heart-healthy exercise. Long days at work, followed by sitting too much throughout the day, will result in a weakened heart muscle unable to pump blood and oxygen adequately throughout the body. Physical fitness is important throughout our entire lives. Carving time to exercise regularly will be one of the best decisions men can make. If time is a factor, break up exercise sessions into 15 minutes each, two to four times each day. Mix up sessions with aerobic, strength training, and even flexibility movements for all-over body fitness.
3. Snuff out smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol
Let’s start with smoking. Lighting up has no health benefits for your one and only heart. Arteries necessary for carrying blood to the heart are easily narrowed by plaque caused by smoking. In addition, chemicals in cigarette smoke can lead to the thickening of the blood and clot formation in veins and arteries, leading to both the heart and brain. The best advice if you currently smoke, have a plan to quit. If you don’t smoke, keep it that way.
Alcohol is sort of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, drinking in moderation may have some heart health benefits. For instance, moderate drinking, which for men is no more than two drinks a day, might help raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. In addition, physicians often recommend red wine’s antioxidant content as an alcoholic beverage that may offer heart health protection. However, these same benefits can be achieved from regular exercise that helps boost HDL cholesterol levels and antioxidants found in foods like fruit, vegetables, and grape juice.
On the other hand, alcohol consumption, especially in amounts higher than what is recommended, can temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, men with alcoholism commonly suffer from high blood pressure, increased heart rate, a weakened heart, and irregular heartbeat.
4. Get help for erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) among men over fifty is fairly common. At least 50 percent of older men will experience the inability to get an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse at least once in their lifetime.
However, ongoing ED can also be an early sign of heart trouble not to ignore. A man’s ability to get an erection is a barometer of a man’s overall health. Besides possible cardiovascular disease, ED can also be a sign of type 2 diabetes in men. That’s because veins leading to the penis rely on good blood flow for men to achieve an erection. Conversely, ED can be a sign of poor blood flow due to arteries that likely have significant plaque buildup slowing or blocking blood to the penis.
Any man experiencing ED should schedule an appointment with their physician or urologist to diagnose the problem and discover the cause.
5. Schedule annual wellness checkups
Men who skip preventative care are gambling with their health. Having an ongoing relationship with their primary care physician is one of the smartest ways to achieve and maintain heart health. In addition, men who schedule annual wellness checkups will have important tests to help interpret the health of their cardiovascular system. These tests include checking levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels.
Men are also more likely to mention to their doctor at annual physicals if they are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain, possible indicators of heart disease.
Wellness checkups are also valuable for men’s health since they focus on prevention rather than cure. Seeing their primary care physician at least yearly helps improve the chance of finding and preventing diseases before they become less treatable. Men should not wait to see a doctor until they have health problems. It’s better to act on “preventative maintenance” to avoid bigger heart health issues in the future.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.