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Men: How to be heart-healthy

June 3, 2024—Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's why it's important for men to understand their risk—and take steps to lower it. Get started with these four steps, based on advice from CDC and other experts.

1. Do a status check

Your regular checkup is a great time to ask your doctor about your heart health—and to take stock of your situation. That includes knowing a few key numbers. Ask your doctor about your:

  • Blood pressure. According to CDC, 1 out of 2 men has hypertension. If you haven't had your blood pressure checked lately, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor.
  • Blood sugar. Diabetes can raise your risk for heart disease—and 3.7 million American men don't know they have it. Ask your doctor if you should be screened.
  • Cholesterol levels. Between ages 20 and 39, men tend to have higher levels of HDL (bad) cholesterol than women. Ask your doctor if you're due to be screened—and how your cholesterol levels affect your health.
  • Body mass index (BMI). Being overweight or obese can raise your risk for heart disease and other health issues. According to CDC, 41.6% of men have obesity.

Once you know your numbers, ask your doctor for help developing a game plan. Treatment and lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk for heart disease.

2. Eat for your heart

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), nutrition plays a big role in your heart health. That doesn't have to mean giving up all your favorite foods. Instead, focus on an overall healthy diet. To give your heart health a helping hand:

Eat more fruits and vegetables. They're naturally low in calories and can help lower your blood pressure through nutrients like potassium. Adult men should get about 3,400 milligrams of potassium each day—so try to eat about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables.

Choose healthy fats. According to AND, the amount and type of fats you eat each day makes a difference. Know your fats and what swaps you might make for a healthier diet.

3. Avoid alcohol and smoking

Excessive alcohol use raises men's risk for heart disease and other health conditions. It's also linked to an increased risk for accidents—another major cause of death for men in the U.S. And according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, any amount of smoking harms your heart and blood vessels.

According to CDC:

  • 30.9% of men had five or more drinks in one day in the past year.
  • 13.2% smoked cigarettes.
  • 13% of men have an alcohol use disorder.

If you need help to stop smoking or drinking, you don't have to go it alone. Ask your healthcare provider for help.

4. Get active

Physical inactivity puts you at higher risk for heart disease, according to CDC. And only 28.3% of men 18 and older met the 2018 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise.

But you don't have to completely change your life to see a difference. Simple activities, like walking, jogging and biking, add up. So do any strength training or balance exercises you might want to add in.

All adults should aim for about 150 minutes of exercise each week. If you don't have a lot of time, try 10-minute bursts—it all adds up!


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