A Man’s Guide to Heart Health

heart health

heart healthYou may not notice it, but your heart could be trying to tell you something. In fact, the main danger of heart problems is the fact that they are often left untreated for so long. On television shows, a heart attack victim is depicted as someone sitting at his desk, and suddenly, he puts his hand to his chest and announces he is having a heart attack. The real life scenario is usually less sudden and dramatic, and for men who are paying attention to their health, not necessarily surprising. Be aware of the signs of heart problems and have a regular checkup. Adopt a healthy lifestyle that involves a low-fat diet and exercise. With the proper lifestyle and preventative measures, you can spot cardiovascular problems early before they develop into major health issues.

Stay Aware

The heart is the center of your body and affects every aspect of your health. Problems that seem unrelated to cardiovascular health might have their basis in heart functioning. Depression often goes undiagnosed in men, because men tend to “tough it out” or bury their feelings. Workaholism and excessive drinking are common ways men cope with depression and stress and tend to make the problem worse. Depression can be a sign of and can aggravate an underlying heart condition, particularly when it is accompanied by strange aches or pains in the back. An early onset of impotence could also be an indication that something is amiss with the heart.

Pay attention to symptoms such as heart palpitations, insomnia, and sudden nervousness. A heartburn-like sensation can be an early sign of a heart attack. It is essential to have an annual checkup and to have your blood pressure tested. Also, if you feel out of sorts, visit a doctor rather than letting it wait.

Eating for Heart Health

Eat a diet that contains whole grains and leafy vegetables. Consume brightly colored vegetables, such as peppers, carrots, and tomatoes which contain antioxidants that eliminate free radicals which build up in the body as a response to stress or pollution. Reduce your consumption of animal fats and eat more monosaturated fats from plants such as nuts and avocados. Omega 3 oils from fatty fish can lower lipids in the blood, increase good cholesterol and prevent heart problems.

Getting a Workout

Many of today’s heart problems can be blamed on the sedentary lifestyle, so it is important to make sure you compensate for hours spent sitting at a desk by getting some exercise. Walk or cycle to work rather than traveling by car and get a rigorous cardiovascular workout at least three times a week for 20-30 minutes. You don’t have to join a gym, but simply grab some running shoes or jump rope at home. While calisthenics and weight lifting also promote health, running, swimming and aerobics get the heart pumping and improve your heart functioning. Making exercise part of a regular routine can keep your heart in top condition for the long run.

Fix Your Routine

Lack of sleep has been linked to heart problems, and insomniacs can face a higher risk for a cardiac arrest. However, too much sleep can also compromise heart functioning. Take deep breaths when you feel stressed or just any time you want to relax, since slow, controlled breathing lowers the heart rate. Various other things have been linked to lower heart attack risk, such as owning a pet, eating a nourishing breakfast and lowering exposure to noise.

Taking Tests

There are many tests that help you zero in on heart trouble when it first begins and can even save your life. The most familiar one is the treadmill test in which you are instructed to run for a few minutes and have your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure measured. Another test measures the atherosclerotic plaque in your arteries. This is called calcium counting, and it involves having electrodes attached to your test as you enter into a machine. Doctors say calcium scoring is the best way of predicting a future heart attack, and can indicate risk 10 years early. It is recommended for people who have a family history of heart disease. An Agatston Score tells you if there are calcium deposits in your arteries and can show your risk of having a heart attack in the next 5 years.

Signs of a Heart Attack

A heart attack doesn’t always arrive suddenly but often starts with a slow burning sensation moving around the back and chest. This sensation can also be characterized by tightness, and you may feel shortness of breath. You may feel a heartburn sensation that does not go away and feel dizzy or nauseous. If you suspect a possible heart attack, go to the hospital right away and don’t be worried about false alarms. In the end, it is much better to make an inconvenient trip to the hospital rather than ignore it until it is too late. If you are aware of the signs of a possible heart attack, you can protect yourself if the situation arises.

Whether or not you have a family history of heart disease, it is important to take care of your heart, since it takes care of your entire body. If you feel a sudden fall-off in vitality or suffer from depression, the main problem may be with your heart. Do a full series of tests, and resolve to eat a healthy diet filled will full grains, vegetables, and monosaturated fats. Get some exercise when you can to give your heart a real workout and to keep it in top shape.