Heart disease is not a uniquely male problem. However, heart diseases are the most common cause of death for American men, compromising about a quarter of all male deaths. The risk only increases with age, particularly after age 40. Knowing your risk and the symptoms of heart disease in men could save your life.
Heart disease is a very serious condition for men and women alike. However, men do tend to face a higher risk of developing and potentially dying from this condition. Consequently, it’s critical for men to learn their risk and understand the symptoms to watch out for in an emergency situation.
Several common risk factors for heart disease in men involve lifestyle choices. For instance, a few common contributing factors in heart disease include:
- Lack of exercise
- High fat and/or high sugar diet
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
With lifestyle changes and treatment from doctors, several of these risk factors can be reduced or eliminated entirely. Unfortunately, men also face a second set of potential risks that cannot be changed. These unchangeable risks include:
- Race or ethnicity (men of African, Asian, Mexican, or native Hawaiian descent experience heart attacks at higher rates than other ethnicities)
- Family history of heart trouble
- Simply being born male
You could be more vulnerable to heart attacks based on your background even if you lead a completely healthy lifestyle. If you know your background places you at a higher risk, don’t brush off your symptoms.
Rarely do heart attacks look as dramatic and easily identifiable as they do in media. Heart attack symptoms in men tend to include:
- Chest discomfort, ranging from a feeling of tightness to pain
- Radiating pain from the chest into the shoulders, back, or arms
- Pain in the throat or jaw
- Stomach pain or nausea
- Sudden rapid increase in heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Cold sweat
- Shortness of breath
Pro Tip: Men under 40 are most likely to experience high blood pressure, chest discomfort, and cold sweat and/or anxiety during a heart attack. Your symptoms may be milder, but your situation is no less serious.
Silent Heart Attacks
In 2016, the American Heart Association warned the public about silent heart attacks, which are defined as heart attacks that produce symptoms so mild the victim isn’t even aware they’re having a heart attack. By their nature, these heart attacks are almost never identified while they’re happening. Patients tend to find out what happened later on during a doctor’s exam.
It’s difficult to tell if you’re having a silent heart attack or just experiencing typical fatigue or heartburn. The best way to tell is to compare your symptoms to how you typically feel. For instance, it’s perfectly normal to have some chest pain after laying on your stomach to do some exercises. However, feeling the same degree of pain after sitting at a desk for hours is absolutely not normal. Learn the different ways your body responds to different situations and if anything seems too out of the ordinary, choose to be safe rather than sorry and get to an emergency room.
Learn to Identify an Emergency
If you’re at risk to develop cardiovascular disease or suffer a heart attack, the best thing you can do is train yourself to recognize anything out of the ordinary. Don’t ignore symptoms or potential risk factors. Take good care of yourself. And most importantly, if you suspect you’re experiencing a heart attack, call 911 or get to an emergency center immediately.
Connect with us to learn more about heart disease in men and men’s health overall.