By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
While many other health ailments receive more attention, heart disease continues to be the No. 1 killer of both men and women. Heart disease describes a range of conditions including blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects); among others.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, including one in three adult men having heart issues, according to the American Heart Association.
George Matthews, a 30-year cardiologist and professor at University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, discusses five issues that cause men to have heart ailments.
By now, we all know the information about smoking being bad for individuals and the overall population. And while the statistics are encouraging with the number of young smokers dropping with each year, issues related to smoking still persist.
“We continuously try to convey to patients that tobacco and cigarettes overall carry so many potential health risks,” said Matthews. “The problem that is still happening is while cigarette smoking is down, we see more and more people using e-cigarettes and touting them as wonderful alternatives. First off, e-cigarettes have not been around long enough for us to know for sure there are no issues. We can’t just say there is no issue because anytime you put chemicals into your lungs, you have a potential consequence to that action.”
Also called high blood pressure, it is a condition where blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Hypertension can strain the heart, damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems and death.
“This is something that is very common within our society for a variety of reasons.” said Matthews. “We often say it is the silent killer because most people don’t know they have high blood pressure until something happens that causes them to have to go to the doctor.”
Matthews said as we get older and live longer, it is likely that most of us will have high blood pressure one time or another. But a lot of our outcomes depend heavily upon our diets.
3 Diet and Obesity
“I have a friend who came to visit me from the Caribbean and he told me that he was amazed that even the poor people in the United States are overweight,” said Matthews. “Thirty years ago, I might see one patient a week who was 300 pounds. Now, I might see someone every day that weighs that much.”
Matthew said poor diet leads to an increase of diabetes along with arthritis and musculoskeletal risk. When it comes to the story his friend told, many of the reasons are because poor nutrition and poor finances often go hand-in-hand. Processed and canned food are the least expensive options in the supermarket.
4 Lack of exercise
Many vascular issues where there are blockages leads to heart diseases. While not all of them are preventable, Matthews believes lack of a good diet mixed with little exercise leads to potential problems. Something as simple as walking regularly, let alone going to the gym, can make a world of difference.
“There are plenty of studies that support exercise being a positive thing for your life. But you don’t even need studies to see the difference,” adds Matthews. “If you work out, you will see that you feel more energized. Your body feels better and so will you.”
5 Cholesterol elevation
To understand high blood cholesterol, it helps to learn about cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. However, we also put foods in our bodies that elevate our cholesterol.
“The ability to improve your cholesterol reduces the risk of future heart attacks and death,” said Matthews. “You have to reduce the amount of bad fats that are going into your body as well as overall caloric intake. If you want to live longer, it is very difficult to do that if you have really high cholesterol.”