The average man is expected to die more than four years earlier than the average woman, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The health of men remains a vital concern in our country, especially since many guys put their own wellbeing on the back burner.
Neglect leaves you more vulnerable than you need to be to the No. 1 man killer: cardiovascular disease. In fact, a bad heart kills more men each year than all types of cancer combined.
The latest figures from the National Heart Foundation reveal that, each year, cardiovascular disease causes more than 43,000 deaths in Australia, including nearly 20,000 from ischaemic heart disease.
But the good news is, you’re not slated to follow that path.
“Unlike other deadly diseases, virtually all the major risk factors for heart disease are modifiable,” says cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen. “Modify your behaviours, and you can significantly lower your risks.”
What Raises Your Risk
Like with other leading causes of death, cigarettes play an important role.
“If you’re a younger man – age 30 to 50 – smoking doubles the risk you’ll have a heart attack,” Nissen says.
High blood pressure, poor cholesterol, excess body weight and too little exercise are the other major risk factors, he says.
Factors to Watch For
Some heart attacks might strike silently, meaning they don’t come with the crushing chest pain you might associate with them.
Instead, you might feel things like mild chest pain, nausea, vomiting, unexplained fatigue, heartburn, shortness of breath or discomfort in the neck or jaw, says radiologist Dr David Bluemke.
How to Keep Yourself Safe
Know what’s actually going on inside your body. You might be on the road to heart disease even if you feel great.
So you need a blood test known as a lipid panel.
“Beginning in his 20s, every man should know his cholesterol levels – including both his HDL and LDL measures – and his triglycerides,” Nissen says.
Armed with your cholesterol and triglyceride scores, your doctor can advise you on how to lower your risks.
“In general, a so-called Mediterranean diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil has a favourable effect on cholesterol and triglycerides,” Nissen says.
Physical activity also helps. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.