Heart disease, also referred to as cardiovascular disease can describe a number of conditions affecting the heart.
Although heart disease includes conditions such as arrhythmias and congenital heart conditions (those present at birth), we are going to discuss those that are the result of lifestyle, environment, and hereditary factors and typically occurs later in life.
We’re talking about coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the narrowing of the arteries. It is usually due to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque – which itself is made up of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the blood – effectively narrows the amount of room in the blood vessel, which restricts the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. Symptoms of CAD may include shortness of breath and a quickened heart rate. When blood flow becomes blocked, it can result in a heart attack. CAD is the most common type of cardiovascular disease.
Congestive heart failure means the heart is not pumping blood as well as it should distribute oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. This can occur for a number of reasons, including high blood pressure and the narrowing of arteries that occurs in CAD – both of which can leave your heart too weak to work properly.
Men and Heart Disease
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States. And yet men are more likely to suffer from heart attacks than women, and men statistically have heart attacks at earlier ages than women.
In addition, there are specific risk factors that make some men more likely to develop heart disease and suffer its consequences, like heart attacks. These risk factors include:
- Age. Age is an important factor in who develops the types of heart diseases we’re discussing here (coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure). The risk for men of developing heart disease increases after age 45, and the average age of a first heart attack is about 65.
- Hereditary factors. A family history of heart disease indicates an increased risk. Close relatives who have had heart attacks or other heart conditions, especially prior to age 50, is seen as a significant factor. Race also plays a part in predicting the likelihood of heart disease. African-Americans and Mexican-Americans are among those with a higher incidence of heart disease.
- Lifestyle risks. Men share many of these risk factors with women, such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. For men with heart disease, smoking nicotine increases the likelihood of death after a heart attack.
- Erectile dysfunction. Although ED does not cause heart disease, it may indicate a vascular (blood) problem. Consider ED a red flag that may predict heart disease years before other symptoms appear.
Healthy habits are important for managing and preventing heart disease. Quitting smoking, eating well, exercising, and managing stress can help reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and heart attacks.
Heart health can be achieved by partnering with experienced primary care providers and cardiologists. The physicians of Intercoastal Medical Group in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida, help men at risk of heart disease live healthier and better lives. Learn more about our practice or find a provider at the Intercoastal Medical Group location closest to you today. You can also request an appointment online now.