For Men’s Health Month, Make Heart Health a Priority

Men’s Health Month is a perfect time for men to think about and act on ways to better their heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the United States, but there aren’t always warning signs.

“The most concerning statistic about heart disease is for men who died suddenly of coronary artery disease and had no previous symptoms,” said Ibrahim Shah, MD, interventional cardiologist at McLaren Greater Lansing Cardiovascular Associates.

Men develop heart disease 10 years earlier on average than women. Heart disease starts out with buildup of plaque in the arteries which leads to hardening and narrowing of the arteries which may lead to a heart attack and other heart-related disease such as congestive heart failure.

“Knowing your risk factors can reduce chances of heart disease,” said Dr. Shah. “For instance, know what your blood pressure is and have it checked regularly. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease and often has no symptoms.”

Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80 or less. When blood pressure starts to rise to the 130/80 or higher level, it is considered hypertension. Hypertension can increase one’s risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, vascular disease, and cognitive issues, such as dementia.

 Other risk factors of heart disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity

Signs and symptoms that men may experience during a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia include having chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, or neck pain.

“Patients that have these symptoms may also describe the feeling of indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting,” said Dr. Shah. “It can manifest as extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.”

Dr. Shah encourages men to visit their primary care physician and talk about any concerns they have. During your exam, your physician will listen to your heart, check your blood pressure, and order blood tests to review your overall health. Medications can be prescribed to help maintain blood pressure levels, and a visit to a cardiologist may be needed dependent on test results and risk factors.

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shah.

For more information on cardiology services at McLaren Greater Lansing, click here.

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