Heart health is a primary focus of discussions about men’s health, because heart disease is the leading cause of premature death among U.S. American men.
The month of June is Men’s Health Month, which inspires many discussions about the whole range of common health issues for men and boys. Among the major health concerns for men, heart problems stand out as the most serious of all. In the United States, 24% of men died from a heart attack in 2015, making it the country’s number one cause of death for men.
Here are easy preventive measures you can take to maintain heart health and reduce your risk of early death from heart disease.
Make Simple Changes in Your Eating Habits
- Watch Your Cholesterol — Keep track of your HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Have periodic cholesterol checks, and make a few dietary changes to reduce your cholesterol.
- Avoid Nutritionally Empty Foods — Foods and drinks that are high in calorie but low in nutritional value cannot fulfill your body’s needs. That problem stimulates hunger sensation, which causes excessive eating as your body tries to get enough nutrients.
- Learn Calorie and Fat Counts — Download one of the many free calorie counting Apps or just Google any food name and add the word “calories”, to see the nutritional contents of any food you regularly eat. Getting to know your food better helps you plan your eating and control your weight.
Move your Body More
- Take Active Breaks — If you’re at a desk (or on a couch) all day, get up and take a short walk for 5-10 minutes a few times throughout the day.
- Participate in Activities — Trade some couch time for a backyard sports activity with the kids, or meet a friend for racquetball once or twice a week. Join a tag football team or sign up for some active volunteer work.
- Start an Exercise Program — Get 30 minutes or more of daily exercise. Choose a kind of exercise you like to do so it will be more fun and easier to stick to it.
Control your Stress Levels
- Get Enough Sleep — Insufficient amounts or quality of sleep is a serious threat to heart health. Change your mattress or pillow if necessary for comfort, keep sheets clean, make your bed, eliminate all light emitting electronics, and minimize noise in your sleep space.
- Take Quiet Time — Stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Take time to relax and decompress every day.
- Use Relaxation Techniques — Try stress reduction methods such as deep breathing, muscle stretches, and others. If you sense excessive stress that you cannot control on your own, talk to your doctor about therapeutic options.
Get Regular Doctor Exams
It is important to see your family doctor for annual check ups. Talk to your doctor about your eating habits, exercise routine, any heart palpitations, and any family history of heart problems. Have your cholesterol and blood pressure taken more often, if you have a heart-related medical condition. Get a blood pressure monitoring kit from your pharmacy, and take your BP at home, especially if you have high blood pressure and your doctor recommends it for you.
For more information about maintaining heart health for men and boys, or to find the closest places to get a physical in your local area, contact KentuckyCare at (877) 791-9154 to request an appointment.