When it comes to matters of the heart, men need to be extra cautious. Not just the emotions related to the heart, but even in matters of heart health. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) seem to be the leading threat in the area of men’s health and with the disease now rearing its ugly head even amongst the youngsters; it has now become a serious cause of concern.
Earlier CVD was seen only in people in their 40s, gradually it came down to late 30’s and now tragically it is being seen even in 20’s. Cardiologists express with grief that a death due to a heart attack in men even in their 20s has been seen now, which was thought to be impossible a couple of decades back. Apart from the extreme, of death due to heart attack, there are many instances of men in their 20s suffering from various kinds of CVD.
Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) is an umbrella term for all conditions related to the heart, blood vessels or both. Coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, rheumatic heart disease, pulmonary stenosis, angina, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation and the like all come under CVD.
Cardiologists are of the opinion that with increasing levels of work stress and the changing lifestyle, CVD seems to be on the rise. With the decrease in physical activities in the life of the present generation of youngsters, and increasing tendency to eat out which leads to unhealthy eating practices, one becomes prone to increased cholesterol levels, which is a leading risk factor for CVD. Long hours of work, increased levels of stress at the workplace has also led to the culture of eating out very regularly, as a result one misses out on the traditional balanced whole meal diet that used to be the part of the lifestyle in the earlier days. Taking the elevators, instead of stairs, slumping down on a couch and indulging in video games and television on return from work, rather than going out and indulging in a sport are small steps whose compounded effect is finally felt in the form of CVD.
Though this lifestyle is not particular only to men, as women also indulge in the same habits, it is men who are said to be more prone to CVD than women because of certain factors. While stress is one of the leading causes making one inch closer to CVD, it is a fact that women are better at expressing and releasing the stress, whereas men hold on to them, as a result, the pent up stress wreaks havoc with their system and ultimately makes them more vulnerable to CVD. The other reason is said to be due to hormonal differences. It is believed that the female hormone tends to provide some kind of a protection from CVD, as a result reducing women’s vulnerability to CVD compared to men.
So given these conditions, it seems men are the weaker sex when it comes to matters of the heart. While heart health is very important and everyone has to take it seriously and inculcate habits that will help them be heart healthy, men are the ones who have to take extra efforts for their heart health and keep CVD at bay.
Symptoms of a heart attack:
• Chest discomfort, including squeezing or pain in the center of the chest between the breasts or behind the breastbone
• Discomfort and/or pain spreading to other areas of the upper body such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
• Other signs include: unexplained weakness or fatigue, anxiety or unusual nervousness, indigestion or gas-like pain, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, and collapse
What to do and not to do when these symptoms are noticed at home:
• Take a tablet of aspirin crushed and dissolved in water, only if available at home
• Stay sitting or lying down and don’t move around or walk
• Call an ambulance
Risk factors for a heart attack include:
• High blood pressure
• Being overweight/obese
• High blood cholesterol
• Tobacco use in any form
• Lack of physical activity
Tips for a healthy heart:
• A balanced diet is crucial to a healthy heart and circulation system. This should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish and pulses, and restricted salt, sugar and fat intake
• At least 30 minutes of regular physical activity every day helps to maintain cardiovascular fitness; at least 60 minutes on most days helps to maintain a healthy weight.
• Tobacco in every form is very harmful to health like cigarettes, beedis, cigars, pipes, or chewable tobacco. Exposure to second-hand smoke is also dangerous. The risk of heart attack starts to drop immediately after a person stops using tobacco products, and can drop by as much as half after one year
• Stress management can be achieved by having adequate sleep and rest and some stress relieving techniques like Yoga and meditation can also help
• Keep a constant tab on BP, Sugar and lipid profile by checking on them once annually after the age of 30 at least.