heart disease

Heart Disease & Men’s Health Month

Writer / Dr. Bharath Raju, cardiologist at IU Health North Hospital

June is Men’s Health Month, a national observance to remind men to focus on their lifestyle choices and medical health. According to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, men in the United States die five years earlier than women. Data also shows men die at higher rates from the top leading cause of death: heart disease. Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack. A few preventative steps can help reduce your risk.

Know what symptoms look like.  

Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until one experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. It is important to know what symptoms look like so you can seek immediate medical care. When it comes to heart attacks, timely intervention can make the difference between a full recovery or significant complications. For a heart attack, symptoms can manifest as chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness or shortness of breath. Heart failure symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen or neck veins. If you do develop symptoms, it is important to seek medical care immediately.

Certain risk factors are associated with heart disease.

Ultimately, our goal is to prevent heart attacks before they happen. Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can increase your risk for heart disease. These include tobacco use, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol use. Changing habits can be difficult, but it is a critical step in improving your overall health. If you plan to significantly decrease alcohol intake, always seek the supervision of a medical professional to assist you.

You can take steps to reduce your risk. 

To reduce your chance of getting heart disease, it is important to take steps to know your health and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Know your blood pressure and if it is elevated, talk to your physician about treatment options. Also speak with your doctor about whether you should be tested for diabetes. If you smoke, a medical practitioner can help you quit or offer you options if you are finding it difficult to quit. If you do not smoke, don’t start. Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels with your physician. Make healthy food choices. Obesity and being overweight drastically raises your risk of heart disease.

To schedule an appointment with an IU Health cardiologist, call 317-962-0500.

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