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    How to Boost Your Man's Heart Health

    We know, we know -- men aren't always the best examples of self-care. Here are six ways to help your man improve his cardiac health.

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    Help men get exercise. Physical inactivity is a risk factor for heart disease, and although more men exercise than women, the figures aren’t impressive -- about 50% of men don’t exercise regularly, according to a CDC survey. Like women, men find lots of reasons not to work out and can get discouraged if they were athletic in high school but now find they lack stamina, Kapadia says.

    Also, he notes, "many men lift weights because they want to build muscles, and they think that, when it comes to exercise, they’re all set." But men need cardiovascular exercise for heart protection, which means brisk walking, jogging, or biking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, at a pace vigorous enough to increase heart rate and break a sweat.

    Help men with stress reduction. Women and men tend to handle stress differently -- women like to talk it through, while guys tend to bottle it up. Studies show that chronic stress, especially the kind that engenders fear or anger, is a risk factor for heart disease. Explore stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, meditation, and massage.

    Help men quit smoking. Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco and low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes, is a major cause of heart disease. And while tobacco use among men in the United States is declining, surveys suggest that 26.2 million, or almost one-quarter of the male population, still smoke.

    Smoking is a hard habit to break, and support is key to success. Encourage your guy to talk to his doctor about smoking cessation aids, such as medication or nicotine substitutes in the form of patches or gum.

    Help men with self-care. "When it comes to being proactive about their health and taking daily medications, men can get lax, especially with conditions that have no symptoms, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol," Kapadia says. So gently remind your man to take his pills. And let him know that some medications, such as those for high blood pressure, can cause side effects, including fatigue and problems getting an erection.

    If this is the case, encourage him to talk to his doctor. "Very often, changing medications can help," Kapadia says.

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    Reviewed on May 21, 2009

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