Heart disease in men
Men develop heart disease 10 years earlier (on average) than women.1 Men also show some of the more common signs of heart attack and stroke compared to women — which could make them easier to spot. However, heart disease is still the leading cause of death among men in the U.S.2
What are the signs of heart attack and stroke in men?
Knowing the signs of a heart attack and stroke in men could save your life or someone else’s. That’s why it’s so important to be aware and take action to get help if you notice these signals.
When in doubt, get checked out. If you have questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact your doctor or to seek medical attention.
Signs of a heart attack in men
Did you know there are more signs of a heart attack than just chest pain? In fact, some heart attacks can happen without chest pain. It’s important to know all the warning signs of a possible heart attack so you can get the proper treatment right away. If a heart attack happens and goes untreated, it damages your heart. Signs of a heart attack that are most common in men include:3
- Chest pain, discomfort or pressure (most common)
- Pain in other parts of your body, like stomach, one arm, back, neck, jaw or teeth
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or wheezing
- Unusual anxiety, weakness or fatigue
Signs of a stroke in men
A stroke happens when your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen (blood). This can happen because of blocked arteries or when a blood vessel bursts and causes bleeding in your brain. Depending on where the stroke happens in your brain, how long it lasts and how severe it is, symptoms will likely vary.4 However, there are a handful of common signs of stroke in men. They include:4
- Numbness or weakness in your face, arm or leg (especially on only one side of your body)
- Loss of vision or dimming vision in one or both eyes
- Trouble speaking
- Confusion or trouble understanding
- Trouble walking or loss of balance and coordination
Am I at risk for heart disease?
The general risk factors for heart disease, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity are true for both men and women. But there are many other factors that put adult men of all ages at a higher risk for developing heart disease. This might look like a long list, but these are all important factors to be aware of — and change, if you can.5
- Age: As you get older, you’re at a greater risk of having damaged arteries and a weakened heart muscle.
- Gender: Men usually have a higher risk of developing heart disease.
- Family history: If heart disease runs in your immediate family, you’re at a greater risk.
- Chemotherapy and radiation: Certain chemo and radiation treatments could increase your chances.
- Smoking: Did you know nicotine constricts your blood vessels? Or that carbon monoxide in cigarettes can damage their lining? Smokers have a much higher chance of developing heart disease. Overall, smokers are 5 times more likely to develop heart disease compared to nonsmokers.6
- High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure means your blood has to pump against more resistance and over time may weaken the muscle of the heart and thicken and narrow the arteries of different organs of the body. Fortunately, it can be spotted and treated with lifestyle changes and sometimes with the addition of medications.7
- High cholesterol: This can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and can clog them if your body has too much.
- Poor diet: Things like sugar and fat may contribute to the formation of plaque inside the arteries. So, if your diet is high in those things, you’re at a greater risk for developing a heart condition.
- Diabetes and obesity: Heart disease has been shown to be more common among people with either one of these conditions.
- Physical inactivity: Exercise helps strengthen your heart. If you’re not getting enough, it could put your heart at risk.
- Stress: Stress often makes other risk factors worse — plus, it can actually damage your arteries. People with depression have worse heart disease outcomes.
- Erectile dysfunction: If your blood isn’t flowing the way it should, you may struggle with erectile dysfunction, which could be an early warning sign of heart disease.8
Can I prevent heart disease?
Heart disease is considered a lifestyle disease. That means it’s mainly caused from (and prevented with) lifestyle changes. Committing to a heart-healthy lifestyle could save your life.
How is heart disease treated?
The treatment for heart disease depends on which kind of condition you have. The three main options are often lifestyle changes, medicine or procedures. With heart disease, making changes to your lifestyle may be your best treatment. You have the power to form healthy habits that can help keep that heart of yours in good shape.9
Who can I see if I’m concerned about heart disease?
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of heart disease, visit your primary care provider (the doctor or provider you might see for your yearly physical). They will listen to your heart, check your blood pressure, and talk through your health history and risk factors. You may even get a blood test. Depending how all of that goes, you might be referred to a cardiologist (heart specialist). Be sure to bring a list of your symptoms, family history and any medicines you’re taking.10
- Special Heart Risks for Men | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov
- Heart Attack Symptoms in Men - Know the Signs | webmd.com
- Men and Stroke | webmd.com
- Heart disease - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
- Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease | John Hopkins Medicine
- Blood pressure chart: What your reading means | Mayo Clinic
- Erectile dysfunction often a warning sign of heart disease - Harvard Health Blog - Harvard Health Publishing
- Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention | American Heart Association
- Heart disease - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic