How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Did you know that heart disease makes up almost 25 percent of all deaths in males in the United States each year? It is the number one killer of men, and half of men who die suddenly of heart disease did not experience symptoms ahead of time. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, too, but it affects more men than women. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease.

There are certain factors that increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. These include:

  • A higher than normal heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • History of smoking
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Obesity

So, what are some signs of heart disease in men? Chest discomfort with physical exertion that goes away when you rest, shortness of breath, jaw pain and pain in the left arm are all symptoms. Cold sweat and nausea are also typical signs of heart disease. Atypical symptoms include a feeling of faintness or light-headedness, a squeezing sensation in the back, and abdominal discomfort.

Of course, there are different symptoms for different heart problems. A heart attack can cause pain the chest, left arm, and jaw, a feeling of pressure or heaviness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and sudden shortness of breath. Heart failure, on the other hand, causes shortness of breath during exercise or while lying flat in bed, waking up gasping for air in the middle of the night, and swelling in the ankles.

So, what can you do to keep your heart healthy? It starts with awareness. Know your family history, to understand your genetic risk. Pay attention to your overall health, too, having your blood pressure and blood sugar checked regularly. Keeping your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar, and waist circumference numbers in the healthy range can go a long way towards protecting you against heart disease, so make sure you’re paying attention to these numbers. Additionally, take the following measures to stay in good heart health.

  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Aerobic exercise is great for your heart, so try biking, swimming, or even just taking a walk. Practicing yoga is another good way to get in some exercise, and it can help with stress reduction as well.
  • Eat a nutritious diet. Pack your diet with nutrient-dense foods, like berries, spinach, avocado, and fish with omega-3 fatty acids. Plant-based and Mediterranean style diets are good for your circulatory system, and eating enough fiber is good for your heart. Cut down on unhealthy fats like butter, high-fat meats, and fried foods, and increase your intake of good fats, found in salmon, nuts, and seeds, as well as some vegetables. Talk to your doctor about supplements that can help support your heart health. While you are eating well, make sure to limit your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is restorative, and helps your body repair itself. Deep sleep helps blood pressure to regulate and can decrease stress. The amount of sleep that’s needed varies from person to person, but it’s generally somewhere between six to eight hours a night.
  • Manage your stress. Stress is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially continuous stress or stress that is handled with unhealthy behaviors like smoking, overeating, or reacting with hostility. Look for ways to lower your stress and find ways to manage the stress you can’t avoid. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and even just brief period of rest are all good stress reducers.
  • Don’t smoke. It is somewhat surprising that anyone still smokes in this day and age, when we know how bad it is for our bodies. Smoking can damage your arteries and other blood vessels, raise your risk of developing blood clots, and cause inflammation that hurts your heart. What’s more, chemicals in cigarette smoke cause plaque build-up in the arteries that is a major cause of heart disease. The good news? The minute you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease begins to drop.
  • Take care of your teeth. Poor dental health can raise your risk of a heart attack. In fact, multiple studies have shown a connection between bacteria from gum disease and tooth decay and heart disease, because that bacteria can travel through the bloodstream from your mouth to your heart.
  • Talk to your doctor about medication. If your risk of heart disease is amplified by another condition, ask about medication that can help manage it. Your doctor may want you to take blood pressure medication, for example, or medication to combat high cholesterol. Brush twice daily, floss once a day, and see your dentist twice a year to protect the health of your mouth and your heart.

Interestingly, there is a link between heart health and erectile function. This is because the penis, like the heart, depends on healthy blood flow and blood vessels to work properly. What’s more, some of the same conditions that increase your risk for heart disease also increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. These include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and increased body weight. Interestingly, low testosterone creates a higher risk of heart trouble, but testosterone levels that are too high can also increase your risk of heart attacks and blood clots. Working with your doctor to stay in a healthy range can improve both your heart health and your fertility.

At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.