More than 3 million American men are currently living with prostate cancer. However, the majority of these men will have a localized cancer confined to the prostate, fewer men will have metastatic prostate cancer, meaning cancer that spreads to other bodily areas beyond the prostate gland, and even fewer men will have advanced prostate cancer that requires additional treatment beyond surgery or radiation.
The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 35,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2023. Prostate cancer ranks second as a cause of cancer deaths (lung cancer is ranked first) among men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Yet, most men with prostate cancer will not die from the disease. 98-99% of men will survive prostate cancer by living with it for years. So, what disease will most men die from, if not prostate cancer? The answer is heart disease.
Why the majority of U.S. men will die from heart disease
Throughout a man’s life, 1 in 4 men will die from heart disease. Heart or cardiovascular disease begins at an earlier age for men than women, making it a leading threat to men’s health. The average age of a first heart attack for men is 65.6 years compared with 72.0 for women.
At birth, our arteries are free of any obstruction blocking blood flow. However, that will change throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Therefore, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle at a young age is crucial to preventing this leading cause of death in men.
Here are some fast facts about men’s heart health:
- Men’s hearts are larger than women’s hearts.
- A man’s heart pumps more blood with each beat.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men followed by cancer and accidents.
- In 2021, a study found that 17% of adult men and 16% of adult women smoked cigarettes, a leading risk for heart disease.
- Before age 50, men are more prone to hypertension than women. Post-menopausal women, however, are at a higher risk.
- Men with erectile dysfunction have a two-fold increase in heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.
- Half of all men who suddenly died of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
Steps men can take to minimize the risk of heart disease
Men can slow down or potentially reverse the effects of aging on a man’s heart. Here are surprising but effective ways to boost heart health:
- Get your Zzzz’z – A good night’s sleep benefits both the body and mind, as it can help decrease blood pressure and stress levels. Need help getting to sleep? Consider cutting back on caffeine, powering down from all electronics at least one hour before hitting the sack, sleeping in a cool room, removing the TV from the bedroom, and going to bed at the same time each night.
- Go nutty – Add some nuts to your daily diet. Focus on omega-3 fatty acids for good heart health. Omega-3’s reduce artery inflammation helping reduce the formation of plaque. When eaten in moderation, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can cut the risk of a heart attack.
- Get moving – Exercise does not have to be strenuous or require a costly gym membership. Finding a form of movement you enjoy is critical. For example, walking, yoga, bicycling, swimming, and lifting weights are excellent, low-impact ways to move your body. Make it fun, and it’ll be easier to become a habit.
- Chill out – Reduce stress by taking 10-15 minutes daily to relax. Turn off your phone and listen to calming music. Make a habit of “checking out” for 10 to 15 minutes daily. Turn off your cell phone, pop in your earbuds, and listen to soothing music. Breathe deeply and just listen. Consider taking a daily walk as exercise is good for heart health.
- Weight management – Maintaining a healthy weight lowers risk of heart disease and other illnesses. Even modest weight loss benefits those who are overweight or obese.
- Kick the habit – Smoking does no one any favors. Whether you smoke just one cigarette a day or 40, each one harms heart health. So, work on quitting smoking to have immediate heart health benefits.
- Drink a (little) wine – A daily 5-ounce glass of wine can be heart-healthy thanks to a compound in red wine called resveratrol. Research has found resveratrol to help improve physical performance, heart function, and muscle strength. If you don’t like red wine, you can still get resveratrol from blueberries in moderate amounts. Concord grapes, and dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao content) are also good sources to consider. Consult with your doctor for advice on consuming alcohol for heart health.
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.