Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S. with nearly one out of four male deaths resulting from the disease. This is why it is important to know the early signs of heart disease in males.
“Men tend to develop heart disease earlier than women,” said Dr. Deepa Soodi, cardiovascular disease fellow with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “This is because women are protected by estrogen and progesterone until they go through menopause.”
Symptoms of heart disease
Half of the men who die suddenly from coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. This is why heart disease is often known as a ‘silent killer.’
Symptoms of heart disease in men may include:
- Chest pain, pressure or heaviness, or tightness
- Upper abdomen discomfort or heartburn
- Pain or tingling in the left side of your body
- Neck pain
- Jaw pain
- Shortness of breath
- Heart racing
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
Family history: A red flag for heart disease
A personal history of diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking can all increase a man’s risk for heart disease. Family history is another warning sign.
“Heart disease is more likely to happen if one or more first-degree relatives have had a heart attack,” said Dr. Soodi. “It is significant if a family member is diagnosed before the age of 55 for men and before age 65 for women.”
Treatments are available
Heart disease may be diagnosed through an electrocardiogram (ECG), blood test, echocardiogram, stress test or cardiac catheterization.
To help treat heart disease, your provider may prescribe medications to help by thinning your blood, helping your heart work more efficiently or breaking up blood clots.
Your provider also may recommend therapies or other medical procedures. These may include an angioplasty, or procedure to help clear artery blockages, heart bypass surgery, a pacemaker or heart transplant.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle to help prevent heart disease
“You can help decrease your risk for heart disease by scheduling routine physicals with your primary care provider, having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and having a diabetes work-up,” said Dr. Soodi.
Wellness exams with your primary care provider can help find the early signs of heart disease in males, like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Maintaining healthy habits is also vital to preventing heart disease.
This includes eating fresh vegetables and fruits and limiting red and processed meats, unhealthy fats, sugars, salt and alcohol. Smoking cessation can help reduce heart disease within a few years and your risk can continue to fall the longer you avoid smoking. Regular exercise, of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, is recommended.