Hypertension and heart health are closely related, with 25% of cardiovascular events—like heart failure and coronary heart disease—connected to hypertension. Both hypertension and heart disease affect men uniquely:
- About 75 million adults have high blood pressure
- New guidelines mean hypertension has almost tripled for men 20 to 44
- 1 in every 4 male deaths results from heart disease
Because June was Men’s Health Month this is a good time to explore why certain conditions may affect men differently, how men can tackle the problem, and some new insights that are useful to men and women alike. As actress Jennie Garth shares, men’s health is more than a statistic.
#TBT me and my hero, my dad. I can truly speak from my heart on the subject of heart disease because it has affected me my entire life. It all started when my father suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with arterial sclerosis at age 37. Caring for him throughout the years and seeing firsthand how the disease affected our family made me want to take my health into my own hands. In just a few days it will be #MothersDay and as I reflect on my relationship with my father, I’m reminded of the mentor I strive to be for my girls. My hope, along with my friends @omronhealthcareus , is #GoingforZero, the elimination of heart attack and stroke. Doctors thrive on data and having more blood pressure readings over time provides them with more insights and a more accurate view of your blood pressure than a single reading in a doctor’s office. Having frequent and accurate blood pressure data points will provide you with a better picture of your overall heart health, which in turn will help doctors create a more effective treatment plan tailored to your needs. Together, we truly can prevent heart attack and stroke. #ad #OMRON
Attitudes make the biggest difference with men’s health
Recent surveys show that nearly 60 percent of men avoid going to the doctor when they may have a medical condition, and only three in five of them get annual check-ups. Getting more regular care is one of many lifestyle changes that can lower risk factors for hypertension and heart disease. Men have a challenge building trust with doctors for unique reasons:
- Traditional ideas about masculinity
- Feeling busy
- Being afraid of getting bad news
- Fear of exams and screenings
The good news is, men’s attitudes are changing. They realize:
- Taking care of yourself takes its own kind of courage and determination
- The time lost to illness is far greater than the length of a doctor visit
- Regular checkups catch problems early when they’re treatable
- Catching problems early can prevent the need for more unpleasant treatments
Hypertension and heart disease prevention for men
- Get regular checkups
- Lower salt/sodium intake
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Watch out for saturated fats and cholesterol
- Get regular exercise
- Drink in moderation
- Quit smoking
- Check your blood pressure regularly
OMRON’s 90 Day Blood Pressure Challenge helps men and women make a habit out of hypertension awareness.
Men should also get these regular health screenings.
More about quitting smoking
Men are more likely to smoke, which damages the blood and blood vessels, increasing risk of hypertension and heart disease. It’s easy to tell someone to quit smoking, and smokers most likely know they should quit already. Practical tips on quitting include:
- Pick your own reason to quit smoking, one that matters to you
- Replace smoking with healthier ways to unwind and relax
- Remove triggers: clear out lighters, ashtrays, smoke odors and reminders of smoking
- Reschedule daily activities like breaks, meals and morning coffee that used to include smoking
Get the right kind of exercise, and consider weight training
Getting 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day, most days of the week, is best for hypertension and heart health. Studies show regularity of exercise is even more important than intensity. Men may see unique benefits from strength training.
- Weight training burns calories, which can burn fat
- Lifting weights can have positive effects on testosterone
- Weightlifting can be beneficial for mood and sleep
The difference between losing weight and burning fat
The real culprit when it comes to heart disease and health is body fat, including belly fat in particular. Muscles have weight too, which means a regular scale or a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation may not show how much belly fat you’re burning and how much muscle you’re building. A body composition monitor is one way to get a better sense of where the weight in your body is coming from.
Don’t forget the protein
Protein is essential to rebuilding the muscle fibers that are torn down and rebuilt during weight training. Remember that the protein requirements for men are higher than what you may see on a nutrition label.
Getting enough sleep
- Keep the same sleep routine every day
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid drinking alcohol before bed
- Avoid big meals too late in the day
- Don’t nap after 3 p.m.
- Relax before bed
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool
- If you can’t sleep, get up and do something else
3 practical ways to reduce stress
Men tend to eat more and exercise less when they’re stressed out. There are also several damaging effects chronic stress can have on the body.
- Try the 4-7-8 breath method and other breathing techniques (breathe in for the count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and breathe out for a count of 8)
- Check email less frequently
- Spend time with your pet
The bottom line for men’s health: be encouraged
Don’t let men’s health statistics discourage you. Most of the risk factors for hypertension and heart disease that are unique to men can be managed by lifestyle and attitude. How you take care of yourself doesn’t just benefit your far-off future. Exercising, eating better and reducing stress can improve your everyday quality of life.