Heart Health: Unique Risk Factors for Men
In the Philippines, heart disease kills more men than cancer, COVID, and accidents combined. Every hour, 15 Filipino men die from cardiovascular disease. But this deadly condition is also one of the most preventable.
An unhealthy diet and an inactive lifestyle are the most publicized risk factors for heart disease. But men also have their own unique set of risk factors and warning signs. This article will list 10 risk factors you may have missed, plus some simple changes that can help keep your heart healthy longer.
10 Surprising Risk Factors and Warning Signs for Men
#1. Heart attacks can come without warning.
Half of the men who died suddenly of cardiac arrest had no previous symptoms.
Manage risk: Cardiovascular disease is often silent, with no noticeable symptoms before a stroke or heart attack. Lab testing and evaluation by a doctor can help you determine your risk of heart disease. A doctor can prescribe medications if needed, and develop a care plan to manage risk.
#2. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is an early warning sign.
Younger men who develop ED in their 40s have an 80% chance of developing cardiovascular problems in the next 10 years. “It’s the canary in the coal mine,” says a Johns Hopkins expert. “Sexual problems often foretell heart problems.”
Manage risk: ED is especially common in the Philippines, with up to 33% of men suffering from the condition. Many Filipinos dismiss erectile dysfunction as a natural part of aging. But sexual problems are a message worth listening to. If you struggle with ED, consider booking a consultation to evaluate your risk of heart disease and stroke.
#3. Low testosterone is linked to heart disease.
As men age, their bodies produce less testosterone. This natural drop in production may begin as early as their 30s or 40s. “Low T” is best known for its impact on sex drive, weight gain, and muscle mass. But numerous studies suggest low testosterone can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Manage risk: If you’re experiencing signs of low testosterone, there are natural ways to increase levels, like resistance training and losing weight. A simple blood test can diagnose low testosterone.
#4. Angry outbursts can trigger heart attacks and strokes.
In the 2 hours following an angry outburst, the risk of heart attack is five times higher. The risk of stroke is 3-times higher.
Manage risk: Physical activity is a healthy way to reduce tension. Japanese researchers found that daily walks can reduce anger and cut blood pressure by 4 points within a month.
#5. Men are less likely to seek medical care.
Women are 100% more likely to go to the doctor for screenings and preventive doctor consults. “Many men are lost for the years in between their pediatrician and when they have their first health scare,” says Leslie Schlachter, director of the Mount Sinai Men’s Health Program. “It shouldn’t take a scare to get you to the doctor.”
Manage risk: Home laboratory services and virtual consults make it easy to fit preventative care into a busy schedule. Research suggests men also avoid the doctor because they fear appearing weak. Home healthcare offers greater privacy alongside convenience.
#6. Hostility may put your heart at risk.
One study found that a hostile personality was a better predictor of heart disease in men than traditional risk factors, such as high blood pressure and being overweight. Over 800 men were tracked over 40 years. The men scoring highest in hostile traits were more likely to develop heart problems.
Manage risk: Like anger, hostile feelings can also be addressed through physical activity. You can try walking, running, boxing, or swimming to increase the endorphins that boost mood.
#7. Cholesterol is not the only test that matters.
In a study of 1000 heart attack patients, over half had normal cholesterol levels. This doesn’t mean cholesterol tests are unimportant. But it’s only one measure of heart health. Other factors, such as cardiac biomarkers, blood pressure, testosterone levels, and lifestyle also play critical roles.
Manage risk: This underscores the importance of getting regular heart health screenings. A full heart screening for men usually includes a cholesterol panel, blood pressure check, and cardiac biomarkers, like C-reactive protein. Screening tests may also include tests that look for conditions that increase your risk, such as diabetes or low testosterone.
#8. Men develop heart disease at a younger age.
On average, men start having heart trouble 10 years earlier than women. Heart attacks in men also occur 4 years earlier, with the average age being 66 years old.
Manage risk: Men are advised to start monitoring heart health from a young age. If there are known risk factors, heart screenings should begin at 20 years old. Men without any known risks should begin screening at 35.
#9. Bottling feelings may raise your risk.
A study published in Health Psychologies noted that people who bottle emotions may have an increased risk for high blood pressure. The study participants who did not express emotion during an unpleasant task had greater physical signs of stress, such as higher heart rates, increased sweating, and elevated cortisol levels.
Manage risk: Not revealing emotions appears to take a toll on the body. For peace of mind, and a healthier heart, consider healthy outlets like meditation, massage, and exercise. Men can also try taking proactive steps to manage known stressors. For example, delegating more tasks at work before becoming overwhelmed by a deadline.
#10. It only takes 1 cigarette a day to raise your risk
The number of smokers in the Philippines is much higher than the global average of 20 percent. Nearly half of Filipino men are smokers. Studies show that just one cigarette per day increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. And light cigarettes are not any safer for your lungs or heart.
Manage risk: When it comes to smoking, half measures are not enough. To preserve your health, you need to quit completely.
Manage Heart Health for a Longer Life
Heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks are not an inevitable part of the aging process. Filipino men can manage many risk factors through lifestyle changes and regular heart screenings. Instead of waiting to become sick, consider booking an evaluation of your heart health today.