It’s Father’s Day, and you’ve got love in your heart for the men in your life -- your husband, your dear old dad, maybe even your brother. But it seems they might not be watching after their own hearts. They ignore this vital organ at their peril: As with women, heart disease is a leading killer of Americans. More than a half million men have heart attacks each year.
Even so, fewer people have died over the past decade, largely due to more effective treatments. The American Heart Association also credits prevention efforts, such as quitting smoking. "This proves that even a little bit of awareness and doing something about the risk factors help tremendously," says Samir Kapadia, MD, an interventional cardiologist at The Cleveland Clinic.
The unexpected death of NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert in June shocked many Americans, who suddenly saw themselves at risk for heart trouble. Heart-healthy diets gained traction in 2008, along with tips for recognizing symptoms of heart disease.
Those topics are among the most viewed heart-related stories on WebMD for 2008.
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Do you want to help a man in your life get more serious about heart health? Here are six ways to increase his heart smarts:
Encourage men to get checkups. An American Academy of Family Physicians survey found that more than half of men don’t get regular checkups -- and don’t know what their risk factors are. High blood pressure and diabetes are both known as "silent killers" because they give no clues. Yet blood pressure starts climbing once a man hits 45 (or a younger age for black men), and 24% of those with diabetes don’t know it. An annual checkup also gives men the opportunity to talk with their doctor about any concerns; erectile dysfunction, for instance, can be an early indicator of heart disease.
Help men with their diets. Keeping trim is important for heart health, but many men skip meals, snack during the day, eat a big meal loaded with fat and calories at night, and, not surprisingly, gain weight. So why not show your man he can stay fit and full with a healthy meal that’s satisfying and delicious?
Choose fish -- grilled tuna, salmon, trout, or mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids -- and add flavor with fresh herbs instead of salt, which raises blood pressure. You could also serve a glass of wine; Kapadia favors red wine, which contains compounds like flavonoids and antioxidants that might reduce heart disease risk.