How men (and women) can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease

Caption
Drinking habits to avoid , for a healthier heart.When it comes to heart health, experts say it's important to avoid certain beverages.When it comes to heart health, experts say it's important to avoid certain beverages.You don't have to be perfect, but making better choices more often than bad ones will reward you many times over in terms of health, Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC, chief medical officer and founder of Step One Foods, via 'Eat This, Not That'.Here are a few beverages to avoid drinking regularly:.1. Soda.Soda contains empty caloriesand has zero nutritional value. .The added sugar in soda can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity.2. Fruit Juice.You'd think that fruit juice would be a quality source of antioxidants and vitamins, but that's not always true. .Just make sure to check the label. Many fruit juices are loaded with sugar.[Fruit juices] act more like a sugary soda inside our bodies than a piece of fruit. , Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC, chief medical officer and founder of Step One Foods, via 'Eat This, Not That'.3. Alcohol.It's important to consume alcohol moderately.Too much alcohol too often can cause a myriad of health issues.It can increase the risk of stroke, liver failure and multiple types of cancer

Cardiovascular disease accounts for about one in every four deaths in the United States

DEAR HEALTHY MEN: What’s the top cause of death in men and what can guys do to reduce their risk?

A: Cardiovascular disease — which includes heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, atrial fabulation, high blood pressure, and other conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels — is by far the biggest killer of men (and women) in this country, accounting for about one in every four deaths.

CVD is also a major cause of disability, and it decreases the quality of life for millions. Because CVD interferes with your heart’s ability to pump blood through your body, it can keep you from working, spending time with friends and family, playing with your children or grandchildren, climbing stairs, and carrying groceries in from the car.

ExplorePulse: a digital magazine for nurses in the Southeast

Even if you don’t have cardiovascular disease now, you might have one or more habits or conditions that could increase the chance that you’ll develop it. Look at the list of statements below. If any of them are true about you, make an appointment to see your health care provider today. Just one “Yes” answer means you are at risk. Two “Yes” answers doesn’t just double your risk — it actually quadruples it. Having three factors increases your risk by 10 times:

  • I’m 45 or older. Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease doubles each decade.
  • An immediate family member (father, mother, brother, sister) was diagnosed with high blood pressure or some other kind of heart condition before age 55.
  • I’m African American.
  • I get little or no exercise.
  • I’m overweight or obese.
  • I eat a lot of salty foods and/or I add salt to what I’m eating.
  • My cholesterol is high.
  • I smoke.
  • I have high blood pressure.
  • I use recreational drugs, such as cocaine.
  • I’m under a lot of stress at work and/or at home.
  • I drink more than two alcoholic drinks every day.
  • I drink a lot of coffee (not decaf) or other caffeinated beverages.
  • I have diabetes. More than 80% of people with diabetes die of some kind of CVD.
  • I’m taking prescription medications that affect blood pressure. This includes Ritalin (drugs for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), steroids, migraine medications, any over-the-counter drugs that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, and any medication that contains stimulants such as caffeine.

Naturally, there’s nothing you can do to change your age, family history or ethnic background. However, you can do plenty about the other risk factors — either on your own or in concert with your health care provider.

ExploreStudy: Southern diet may raise risk of sudden cardiac death

Quit smoking. Smokers are much more likely than nonsmokers to suffer heart attacks and strokes and far more likely to die as a result.

Check your blood pressure. Diagnosing high blood pressure is easy — all you have to do is have it checked by your health care provider or do it on your own (blood pressure monitors are widely available).

Watch your cholesterol. A provider will have to order the test, but you should keep an eye on your numbers: Total cholesterol should be under 200; HDL (the “good” kind) should be over 40, LDL (the “bad” kind) should be under 100; the triglycerides should be under 150.

Eat right and get to a healthy weight. This means reducing sugars, red meats and highly processed foods, and increasing fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and whole grains.

Exercise. Try for 30 minutes every day, but only after checking with your provider to make sure you’re healthy enough.

Chill. We all feel stressed sometimes, but too much stress for too long a time can cause serious — and potentially deadly — problems.

Finally, build a partnership with a health care provider. Getting baseline readings for blood pressure, cholesterol and other markers could save your life. You’ll find an excellent list of which tests you should have and when at www.getitchecked.com. And you’ll find additional information on cardiovascular disease from Men’s Health Network at https://menshealthnetwork.org/library/Heartbeat.pdf.

For more content like this, sign up for the Pulse newsletter here.


Armin Brott is the author of “Blueprint for Men’s Health,” “Your Head: An Owner’s Manual,” and many other works on men’s health. Visit him at HealthyMenToday.com or send questions or comments to armin@healthymentoday.com.