In 1994, Congress declared June as Men’s Health Month to recognize men’s health as a family issue and highlight its impact on wives, mothers, daughters and sisters.
Men’s Health Month also heightens awareness of preventable health problems and encourages early detection and treatment of disease among males. One of the keys to good health is preventive care with routine screenings for diseases such as: Diabetes; Cholesterol; High Blood pressure; Prostrate Cancer and Heart Disease.
Heart disease is the number-one cause of death for both men and women. Below is a list of risk factors for heart disease:
• Age 45 or older?
• African American?
• Overweight or Obese?
• Have high blood pressure?
• Drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day?
• Drink a lot of coffee or caffeinated beverages?
• Use cocaine or other drugs?
• High cholesterol?
• Eat a lot of salty foods?
• Under stress?
• Have a family member with cardiac disease or high blood pressure?
• Low activity level?
If you answer yes to any of the above questions and have not seen your medical provider regularly, you need to make an appointment. If you answer yes to two of the questions, your risk for cardiovascular disease is quadrupled; yes to three of the questions increases your risk level 10 times.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 2,200 heart attacks each day and 800,000 each year (150,000 in individuals under the age of 65). For the nearly eight million people in the United States who have had a heart attack, many are living with a disability and decreased quality of life.
Because heart disease interferes with your heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body, you may be unable to work or engage in an active life. It can also keep you from spending time with friends and family. Tasks such as climbing stairs, carrying groceries in from the car, walking short distances, and even having sex may be difficult or impossible.
Symptoms of a heart attack may include chest pain or discomfort; upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach; shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue or cold sweats. Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw is more common in women during a heart attack.
If you suspect that you or someone is experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Not everyone has these symptoms of a heart attack, but every second counts. The longer you wait to get help, the greater the chance for severe heart damage or death.
Although some of the risk factors for heart disease cannot be changed, there are lifestyle choices that can lower your risk. Managing your weight, decreasing your stress, and increasing your activity level can have a significant impact on your health and wellness.
Decreasing salt and sugar intake and increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet can be beneficial to your heart. If you have been prescribed medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, take it exactly as prescribed.
To reduce stress, finding a balance between personal, work, and family needs isn’t easy. Start by looking at how you spend your time. Maybe there are things that you don’t need to do at all.
Are you scheduling “me time”— time for you to relax your mind and body? Establishing a balance between mind, body and spirit are essential to one’s wellness.
In order to get information about appropriate and safe ways to lose weight, begin exercising, reduce stress, or curb your smoking, make an appointment with your primary care physician. Once cleared by the physician to exercise, you can begin to make small changes in your life such as taking the stairs at work, parking further away from the entrance to the grocery store, and eating in a heart-healthy way. You may also benefit from speaking with a mental health provider or spiritual advisor.
Take charge of your health today.
Deirdre Annice Golden, Ph.D., LP, is director of Behavioral Health for NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center Behavioral Health Clinic, 1313 Penn Ave. N. She welcomes reader responses to Deirdre.Golden@co.hennepin.mn.us, or call 612-543-2705.