Heart Disease in Men 

By William Herzog, M.D.

William Herzog MDHeart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. Heart disease causes about one fourth of male deaths.

Heart disease includes several types of heart conditions. Most commonly, the term heart disease in used in reference to coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”) and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Other important types of heart disease include valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms also known arrhythmias. Congestive heart failure may develop as a result of heart attack or may be caused by untreated high blood pressure or untreated abnormal heart rhythms.

About half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. It is important to realize that you may be at risk for heart disease even if you have no current symptoms. On average, men develop heart disease 10 years earlier than women do. They also have an early warning sign specific to men—erectile dysfunction.

Common symptoms of heart disease include:

  • heart attack—chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath
  • congestive heart failure—Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins
  • abnormal heart rhythms—palpitations such heart skipping beats, racing, pounding or fluttering in the chest

The risk factors for heart disease include:

  • family history of heart disease
  • high blood pressure, diabetes
  • high cholesterol or high triglycerides (fats) in the blood
  • smoking
  • overweight and obesity
  • physical inactivity,
  • excessive alcohol use

Aside from family history, these risk factors can be identified and effectively treated by visiting your doctor. Many of the risk factors can be helped by healthy lifestyle, while others require medicine. Managing these risk factors can help prevent heart disease from developing.