5 Heart Health Tips for Men over 40
In the U.S., nearly half of the male death rate is due to cardiovascular problems. Each year, scientists come up with new ways in which men can protect their heart by avoiding certain habits and lifestyles that abet heart problems. You might have heart disease going on in the family, making you genetically susceptible, but that does not mean that you cannot change it. Here are five changes required for adopting a healthy lifestyle to help improve heart health and prevent heart disease:
1. Quit Smoking
Usage of tobacco and smoking are significantly responsible for developing heart disease. There are over 4000 chemicals contained in cigarettes that can cause damage to your blood vessels and heart by narrowing down the arteries that leads to cardiovascular disease or heart attack, and 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Smoking is bad, whether occasional or chronic, and people opting for smokeless tobacco called snuff and low-nicotine/low-tar cigarettes are equally at risk, and so is second-hand smoking.
The carbon monoxide in the cigarette smoke also lowers the level of oxygen in your blood and forces your heart to pump harder to supply the oxygen to the body. People who quit smoking witness a dramatic drop in the risk of heart disease within one year. No matter how much you’ve smoked, quitting smoking will always be extremely rewarding in the long run, and the heart begins to repair itself once the smoker stops smoking!
2. Exercise Everyday
Regular heart healthy exercise can reduce your risk of contracting heart disease, such as bike riding. Combining exercise with a good heart healthy diet will be the best combination in preventing heart troubles. Not only does exercise control your weight, but it also decreases the chances of contracting heart-related disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress and diabetes. Exercise also helps reduce or eliminate the symptoms of depression. Start off by incorporating a half an hour of moderate-to-intense physical work-out for three to five days a week. Try to be religious in exercising and don’t give up.
There are several heart healthy physical activities that we do in a day, which also burn calories, but men having a sedentary office job should focus on a higher intensity work-out to balance the inactivity period. Use a treadmill or recumbent exercise bike in the beginning, and work up to more strenuous exercise. It’s never too late to exercise and you can make it fun by playing a high intensity sport like tennis or soccer which works just as well as working out in a gym.
3. Heart Healthy diet
There is a special diet plan termed as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or the DASH diet plan that can protect your heart. The purpose of this heart healthy diet plan is to eat foods that are low in salt, cholesterol and fat such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, fish and whole grains. Red fruits are high in lycopene, which lowers blood pressure, and dark green leafy vegetables are high in zinc. Reducing harmful fats such as Trans fat and saturated fat can help you reduce cholesterol and coronary heart disease very effectively, improve prostate function and reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Cut down on red meats, palm and coconut oils, bakery products, processed foods and many other unhealthy foods.
Try to consume certain foods that contain the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids that help in reducing the risk of heart attack as it maintains blood pressure at a normal level. Fish, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil and walnut oils are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Excess consumption of alcohol also leads to heart disease. Consuming alcohol in moderation actually does well for your heart.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
When you start gaining weight during adulthood, then it is more likely that it is fat than muscle. Excess weight can lead to heart conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Keep a check on your body mass index or BMI to see whether your weight is healthy or not. A BMI of 25 and higher is associated with obesity and a high risk of heart disease. However, depending only upon the BMI rating would not perfectly guide you as muscle weight more than fat and some muscular and fit people might have a higher weight without any health risks.
You could also measure the circumference of your waist to check how much abdominal fat you have. Men having a waist measurement of more than 40 inches are considered overweight. Losing even 10% of your weight will help you decrease your blood cholesterol level, diabetes and blood pressure too.
5. Periodic Health Check-ups
After crossing 20 years of age, do go in for regular health check-ups. You might have high cholesterol or high blood pressure without your knowledge, and without testing you would never know it. A regular screening helps you to get diagnosed at the right time. Blood pressure should be checked every two years. If your blood pressure is not ideal, then you should have frequent check-ups. Try to get your cholesterol measured every five years from the time you turn 20 years of age. Even children, having a family history of heart disease, should get themselves tested periodically. Diabetes is a factor that leads to heart disease, so you should consider having a fasting blood sugar test to check for diabetes.