Are you worried about heart disease? You are not alone. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men. In fact, the latest statistics show that over half of all deaths from heart disease are men. Each year, over one-half million people suffer their first coronary attack. Fortunately, new research can help men improve their chances of avoiding this life-threatening condition.
The Rules Are Changing
Approximately sixty percent of young men who follow the basic rules for heart health enter middle age with a low risk of coronary heart disease. The basics – eating a good diet, exercise, maintain a healthy BMI or body mass index, not smoking, and keeping their alcohol consumption to a minimum – are the best starting points for anyone hoping to avoid heart disease. In fact, doctors now advise patients that lifestyle and environment play a bigger factor in your risk of heart disease than genetics.
With the massive amount of research into men’s heart health new rules are emerging. Men are advised to follow the basics and make a few other changes as well.
Know Your Risk for Heart Disease
The Framingham Heart Model is an algorithm that is used to estimate a person’s risk of heart disease. The algorithm allows a person to input information on age, cholesterol level, blood pressure in addition to other key risk factors.
Recently, the Framingham Heart Model has come under fire because of perceived inaccuracies in the prediction model. The model does not factor in family history of heart disease or lifestyle choices. However, many doctors consider the algorithm an excellent place to start.
You can complete the algorithm online and share your results with your doctor. The Framingham Heart Model is a great place to start as you begin your journey to a healthier heart. Once you have completed the algorithm you can work with your doctor to determine your comprehensive risk by discussing your family history and lifestyle factors.
Cardio has long been the mantra of heart health for men. Whether you swim, run, or ride a bicycle you are on your way to a healthier heart. New studies show that adding interval training and weights to your workout will vastly improve your chances of avoiding coronary heart disease.
Interval training forces you to attain up to ninety percent or more of your maximum heart rate. You can easily add interval training to cardio workouts. Added benefits come when you include weights. Resistance training improves blood flow throughout your body which allows the heart to work more efficiently. Experts suggest circuit training to get the most benefit for your heart.
Reducing cholesterol is key to maintaining heart health. You can drastically cut your cholesterol with a few changes in your diet. Barley and oatmeal are two of the most powerful heart healthy foods. They contain soluble fibers called betaglucans which aid in lowering the bad cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol. Psyllium is another heart healthy grain that contains high levels of fiber that cut down LDL cholesterol.
Adding soluble fiber to your diet is only one way you can decrease your chances of a heart attack. Tomatoes are now being touted as a super-food for heart health. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a nutrient known for lowering bad cholesterol. In one study people who added up to two glasses of tomato juice or two tablespoons of ketchup to their current diet saw an eight percent drop in LDL cholesterol in just three weeks.
A simple blood test will help you monitor your cholesterol. Men with extremely high cholesterol levels are often prescribed statins. Statins have been proven to lower cholesterol and lower a man’s risk of heart disease by up to thirty percent.
It is well documented that stress can lead to heart disease. The stress hormone cortisol is seen in higher levels in men who suffer heart attacks than men who are hospitalized because of other conditions. A sixty-five hour work week could land you in the hospital. The best prescription for alleviating stress is exercise. When you feel yourself becoming stressed take a break and go for a walk or work-out.
Stress is a known reason many men suffer from coronary heart disease. What you may not know is that depression can also lead to heart problems. The latest research shows that men who suffer from depression are in a higher risk category than men who have genetic predispositions or poor lifestyle habits. If you suffer from depression it is important to seek help. SSRIs, a type of antidepressants, improve the blood flow in your body.
Follow the new rules by making heart healthy changes today. Simple changes to your diet, adding exercise to your daily routine, and discussing your heart disease risk with your doctor can put you on the road to better health.