The Top 5 Health Concerns Men Should Know #1: Cardiovascular Disease

For men, the factors that contribute to health threats are talked about often. Each month we will feature a different health threat to not only be aware of, but to learn how to take an active role in preventing.

First, the most prevalent… Cardiovascular disease.

They call it atherosclerosis, meaning “hardening of the arteries.” But it could as easily be from the Latin for “a man’s worst enemy.”

“Heart disease and stroke are the first and second leading causes of death worldwide, in both men and women,” says Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC. “It’s a huge global public health problem, and in the U.S. we have some of the highest rates.”

In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms, blocking the artery and causing a heart attack or stroke.

One in five men and women will die from cardiovascular disease, according to Labarthe. For unclear reasons, though, men’s arteries develop atherosclerosis earlier than women’s. “Men’s average age for death from cardiovascular disease is under 65,” he says; women catch up about six years later.

Even in adolescence, girls’ arteries look healthier than boys’. Experts believe women’s naturally higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) are partly responsible. Men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke:

  • Get your cholesterol checked, beginning at age 25 and every five years.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they’re high.
  • If you smoke, stop.

Increase your physical activity level to 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.

Eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.

“There’s a saying that ‘children should know their grandparents,'” says Labarthe. “This is fatal or disabling condition that causes lost family time and working time. But a large number of these events are preventable.”

 

Stay tuned next month as we discuss the next top male health concern, prostate cancer.

 


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