For many men, career, financial, and family pressures can make the 40s and 50s a very stressful time. And stress is a known risk factor for heart disease. Keep in mind, too, that heart disease hits men at a younger age than it does women. In addition, heart disease is the No.1 killer of men age 45 to 54. Now's the time to find ways to get that stress off your back, whether it's regular exercise, yoga, meditation, or stress management classes.
2. Don't skip the doctor.
The women in your life have probably been to the doctor at least once a year since they were in their 20s, even if just for a Pap smear. It's easy for guys to get out of the habit of routine care. But as you reach midlife, this is one habit you should start, not stop.
3. Deflate the spare tire.
Many men tend to gain weight around the middle as they hit midlife. Watch it closely. Studies have found that spare tires trump even general obesity as a predictor of heart disease and diabetes.
4. Don't forget key screening tests.
All men 20 and older should get their cholesterol checked every five years. Talk to your doctor about diabetes screening starting at age 40 -- or younger, if you're overweight and physically inactive, or have a family member with diabetes. And don't forget about high blood pressure. Ask your doctor how often you should be screened for it to protect yourself against stroke and heart disease. Colon cancer screening is recommended at age 50 (earlier if you're at high risk).