With one person dying every 34 seconds due to cardiovascular conditions, heart disease is a leading cause of death in the US. Heart disease in men is more common than in women, due to many men’s processes of coping with stressful events which contribute to a greater risk of heart disease.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way; there are some simple and cost-effective ways to lower heart disease risk and maximize your longevity. Some risk factors we have to accept and work around (family history, age, or sex), but there are plenty of ways to reduce your likelihood of developing heart disease.
Read on to learn more about these powerful yet simple lifestyle changes you can implement to lower heart disease risk factors while increasing your longevity.
7 Tips for Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease in Men
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
It is known that being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease in men. It’s also a risk factor for several other health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.
Body mass index (BMI) uses your height and weight measurements to determine if a person is a healthy weight. A person with a BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight. In addition, waist circumference can also be a helpful tool in measuring internal stomach fat known as visceral fat. In men, if your waist is over 40 inches, there’s a high probability you have unnecessary visceral fat that can substantially increase your risk of heart disease. Another metric to consider is your relative fat mass (RFM) index. This also takes your height and weight into consideration to estimate body fat percentages.
When you lose excess body weight, you will most often see the other symptoms improve at the same time, like hypertension and diabetes.
2. Get Moving
Physical activity has many benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease and controlling your weight. In addition, it can also reduce the chances of other health conditions that may strain your heart like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and dementia.
The CDC recommends aiming for 150 minutes of activity per week, which may sound like a lot but can be broken down into five 30-minute sessions. If you’ve not been active for a while, you may need to work your way up. But remember, even short bouts of activity such as gardening, walking the dog, and taking the stairs all count towards daily activity. Finding that balance of aerobic and anaerobic activities will unlock your genetic potential and build a strong heart!
3. Eat Whole Foods and a Seasonal Diet
A nutrition plan centered around whole foods is one of the most important levers you can pull to lower heart disease risks. This balanced and intentional approach will reverse or protect you from the woes of metabolic syndrome like insulin resistance, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and obesity.
Whole foods only fit into several categories. It’s that simple. When available and budget-friendly, always aim for organic, locally-sourced products like:
- Pasture-raised meat and eggs
- Sustainable wild fish
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Grass-fed whole dairy products like milk and cheese
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha
Try to eliminate or severely restrict your intake of these foods:
- Processed foods
- Refined sugars, especially fructose
- Highly refined, industrial oils such as corn, soybean, canola, and vegetable
4. Get High-Quality, Restorative Sleep
Good quality sleep is essential to cognitive function and ensuring that our bodies have enough time to rest and recover. People who don’t have an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night according to the CDC. However, research shows that over a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Make sleep a priority for your health.
Tips for increasing the quantity and quality of sleep you’re getting:
- Have a schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Exercise or get in some focused physical activity every day
- Limit your caffeine intake
- Engage in a pre-sleep hygiene routine: dim the lights, relax, read a book, and avoid television and social media
5. Manage Stress in a Healthy Way
Managing stress can be challenging, especially when we’re already under a lot of stress. First, get good at recognizing these moments or triggers in our lives. What’s causing you stress? If you’re unsure, ask those around you for input. Then come up with a plan to avoid the triggers or deal with stress mitigation. Healthy coping mechanisms are endless but first things first.
Some people have unhealthy coping mechanisms for stress, such as overeating, smoking, or drinking alcohol. Finding healthier, alternative ways to manage stress, such as meditation, talk therapy, or physical activity, can have a lot of health benefits in addition to defusing a stressful situation.
6. Quit Smoking
One of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease is to quit smoking or using tobacco. Cigarette smoke limits oxygen in the bloodstream, increasing blood pressure and heart rate due to the heart having to work harder to supply oxygen to the brain and body.
The benefits of smoking cessation happen almost instantly, even after one day. After a year of non-smoking, the risk of heart disease is about 50% less than a smoker.
7. Schedule Regular Health Screenings
Health conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure can harm your heart. However, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions without regular testing. Therefore, regular screenings can give you the information you need to make positive changes and lower heart disease risks.
If you have a health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, your doctor or health care provider should first analyze and suggest lifestyle changes. Depending on the severity of the disease or your biomarker results, medications may be recommended.
If you’re concerned about heart disease or have not been feeling yourself recently, consider speaking with a men’s health physician.
Here at Opt Health, we have specialized men’s health doctors who can provide treatment and test results from the comfort of your home. Our personalized and comprehensive screening is at the forefront of our proactive healthcare model to increase your vitality and longevity and to simply get you feeling like you again! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to book an appointment.