Unmasking the threat: Cardiovascular Disease in Men
by Janelle Bertler, Traditional Naturopathic Practitioner
Despite medical advances and technologies the leading cause of death worldwide for both men and women is cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heart disease claims millions of lives each year! Although CVD affects both men and women, let’s shed some light on the unique aspects of CVD in men.
- According to the World Health Organization, approximately 17.9 million men die from CVD each year, accounting for more than half of all CVD related deaths globally.
- Men tend to develop CVD at a younger age compared to women. On average, men experience heart disease about 10 years earlier than women, often during middle age.
- Globally, heart disease and stroke account for approximately 1 in 4 male deaths, with some regions reporting even higher statistics.
Let’s look at cardiovascular disease risk factors, symptoms, prevention and management strategies specifically pertaining to men.
Understanding Heart Disease:
Cardiovascular Disease encompasses a broad range of conditions that affect any part of the cardiovascular system: heart, blood vessels (including arteries, veins, and capillaries), or circulation of blood throughout the body. The most common types of CVD are coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, peripheral artery disease, arrhythmias, heart valve disorders and congenital heart defects.
Risk factors associated with CVD in men include:
- Age: especially for men 45 years or older
- High Blood Pressure: In 2019 according to the WHO, around 35% of men age 18 and older have hypertension worldwide.
- High Cholesterol: Imbalanced LDL to HDL increases plaques, inflammatory response, and formation of blood clots.
- Smoking: Damages blood vessels, promotes clots, and reduces healthy cholesterol levels.
- Obesity and Poor Diet: Leads to elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
- Diabetes: Due to its potential to damage blood vessels and nerves
- Physical Inactivity
- Family history of CVD, especially if a close male relative ie: a father or a brother experienced heart disease at an early age.
- Stress: Unmanaged psychological factors can lead to coping mechanisms, such as poor dietary choices and increased alcohol consumption, both of which increase risk of CVD.
Most people are aware of the classic symptoms of heart disease. The typical chest discomfort (pressure, tightness, squeezing or burning) with pain radiating to the arms, shoulders, jaw or back; often triggered by physical activity or emotional stressors. However, the symptoms can vary widely depending upon the specific condition involved.
Here are some of the more mild and common symptoms connected with CVD:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical exertion or laying flat
- Fatigue, even with minimal physical exertion
- Weakness, caused by inadequate oxygen supply to the body’s tissues
- Sweating excessively, unrelated to physical activity or external temperature, especially in conjunction with chest discomfort
- Nausea or dizziness, sometimes associated by vomiting
- Rapid or Irregular heartbeat
- Edema / Swelling, caused by fluid accumulation
Sometimes CVD symptoms are masked by other underlying medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes or chronic lung conditions. Other times, the symptoms are atypical and attributed to other non-deadly issues such as fatigue or indigestion. In the early stages of cardiovascular disease, there are usually no symptoms! Due to these factors a severe event such as stroke or heart attack may come without warning. The sudden event may be the first sign of disease – which is why heart disease is called a “silent killer.”
According to the American Medical Association, the average age for men to have their first heart attack is around 65 years of age. Although disease processes could have begun as early as 40 years of age. Cardiovascular disease significantly impacts quality of life! However, many CVD’s are preventable or manageable through lifestyle modifications, regular monitoring and treatment by healthcare practitioners. It’s never too late to create change for improvement to the cardiovascular system. Let’s look at what you can control at home for a healthy heart and circulation system.
Prevention & Management Strategies:
Multiple cardiovascular disease risk factors are interconnected, one often affects the other. Which makes adopting a healthy lifestyle crucial in prevention and management.
Lifestyle for a healthy cardiovascular system:
- Engage in Regular Physical Activity: Physical activity maintains healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight, and overall cardiovascular fitness.
- Quit Smoking: 88% of smokers worldwide are men
- Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
- Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
- Maintain Healthy Weight
- Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Regulation
- Manage Stress
- Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Use medical professionals to monitor necessary blood markers for early detection and timely intervention
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it is time to be evaluated by your cardiologist! If you are ready for a protocol to move you towards further health resiliency, reach out to Longevity Health Center. We strive to support men to feel their best so they can show up in society with the strength to function at higher levels. Please share this with all the important men in your life.