Heart disease is one of the most common health problems that affects men. Men may be able to reduce their risk of developing serious complications like heart attack by knowing some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease and getting proper medical attention.
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Heart disease is a term referring to a range of heart health issues including:
- heart failure
- coronary artery disease
- other heart-related irregularities, infections, and birth abnormalities
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease affects more than 1 in 3 men in the United States.
A person may have evident signs of heart disease that are easily perceptible in some cases. It is possible, however, to develop heart disease without experiencing any obvious symptoms.
Are Symptoms Different in Men and Women?
Men and women share many of the same symptoms for heart disease and heart attacks. But, men are more likely to experience the well-known heart attack symptoms such as:
- severe chest pain
- squeezing or fullness in the chest
- pain in the arm, jaw, or back
- cold sweat
Women are less likely to experience crushing chest pain. They have a higher chance of having the following symptoms:
- pain in the jaw, chest or neck
- feeling faint or dizzy
- squeezing on the upper back
- fullness, pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest
Women are more likely to ignore their cardiac symptoms because it is less palpable that they relate precisely to the heart.
Signs of heart disease in men
There are often some earlier symptoms and signs that men can look for, which may help to prevent a stroke heart attack, or other complications of heart disease.
These include the following:
Symptoms of heart arrhythmia
Heart arrhythmias occur when the heart beats too slowly, too quickly or irregularly. Some symptoms to watch out for include:
- fainting or light-headedness
- unexplained pain in the neck, jaw, or torso
- a sensation of the heart racing, or beating too slowly or irregularly
- pain or pressure in the chest that can last for up to 30 minutes
- difficulty catching the breath after moderate exercise such as walking up stairs
Symptoms of blood vessel problems
Blood vessels can constrict over time, making it more difficult for blood to pass through the veins and arteries and this mounts greater strain on the heart when it pumps. Some early symptoms of narrowing blood vessels include:
- extreme fatigue
- an irregular heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or angina
- a feeling of pain, numbness, swelling, tingling, coldness, or weakness in the outer extremities
Symptoms of a heart attack
Men generally experience a combination of the following symptoms when they have a heart attack:
- pain in the arm, neck, jaw, or back
- chest pain
- squeezing or a sensation of chest pressure or fullness
- excessive sweating
- shortness of breath
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Diagnosing heart disease often begins with a physical examination where a doctor will discuss any symptoms that a person is experiencing and any risk factors they may have for developing heart disease.
After the physical health of a patient has been assessed, the doctor may run several diagnostic tests to determine if a person has any form of heart disease.
A doctor will monitor a person as they walk or run on a treadmill to check whether or not they are likely to have narrowing of the blood vessels.
A doctor may also use an MRI scan to check for blockages that could be causing a restriction in blood flow.
If they confirm a blockage, the doctor will need to determine its exact location. The method for this is invasive but should not be painful.
A cardiologist will use a long, thin tube to insert a dye into the blood vessels of the heart, in a procedure called cardiac catheterization. A radiologist will then take a series of X-ray images of the heart and arteries, called an angiogram.
There are several possible treatment options for heart disease. A doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications:
- warfarin or other blood thinners
- digoxin, which helps the heart work more efficiently
- medication to break up blood clots
- antiarrhythmic drugs
- angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- medication to inhibit platelets, which help blood to coagulate
- calciumchannel blockers
In addition to medication, a doctor may also recommend therapies and other medical interventions such as:
- CPR, in the case of heart attack
- heart bypass surgery
- valve disease treatment that uses either surgery or balloon valvuloplasty
- a pacemaker
- a cardioverter defibrillator to help maintain a regular heartbeat
- a left ventricular assist device to help in pumping blood
- enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP), to help open up small bypass channels around constricted arteries
- cardioversion to restore a regular heartbeat
- angioplasty to open up blocked arteries
- heart transplant
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There are several lifestyle changes that men can make to help reduce their risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack:
- quit smoking
- increasing consumption of diet rich in fiber, vegetables, and fruit in the diet
- exercising three or more times per week
- eating a diet low in processed sugars
- lowering salt consumption
- reducing stressthrough meditation or yoga
- establishing a baseline of health through regular checkups to help identify problems earlier
- being aware of snoring as a potential sign of heart disease
- maintaining a healthy weight