With Father’s Day on the horizon, as we spend a little time reflecting on and being thankful for the men who have touched our lives, we should also pause to consider their health. In the United States, the average life expectancy for men is roughly 75 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s a full five years less than the average life expectancy of American women. The leading cause of death among both men and women is heart disease, so why the discrepancy? Understanding the specific cardiovascular risks of men is the first step to prevention.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for 28% of male deaths every year and is the leading cause of death among American men. Men tend to develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than women do, making them far more likely to succumb to the disease while still in the prime of life. Approximately 25% of all heart-disease related deaths in men occur before the age of 65.
The good news is that healthy lifestyle choices and proper dietary supplementation have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Men (and women) often wait until a problem exists before making positive lifestyle changes, when in many cases implementing a therapeutic lifestyle at an early age can prevent the onset of disease entirely.
- Eliminate tobacco.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fats.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
- Have regular cholesterol and blood pressure checks.
In addition to these positive steps, several nutritional supplements can also target heart health. Edmond pharmacist Dave Mason recommends omega-3 fatty acid supplements in addition to a good multiple vitamin for all of his patients. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish. They help to decrease fluid retention and blood pressure, directly benefiting the heart. “For cardiovascular health, extra magnesium, vitamins E and C, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and niacin can be added, along with an additional serving of potassium in the diet.” Mason advises his patients who have or are at risk for a heart condition to consider adding these supplements to a healthy lifestyle.
Magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxant, has been shown to lower blood pressure, and can positively affect cholesterol by decreasing LDL while increasing the HDL. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to increased incidence of hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. Mason typically recommends 600-1000 milligrams of highly-absorbable magnesium daily.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamin E has been shown to play a major role in preventing heart attacks by reducing platelet adhesion and inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. A 1996 study found that patients with artheriosclerosis had fewer heart attacks when given 400-800 IU of Vitamin E daily than those in the placebo group. Vitamin C improves lipid profiles, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Mason recommends 1,000 milligrams of high-quality Vitamin C three times daily for maintenance.
CoQ10 helps to produce energy at the cellular level to power the muscles, including the body’s most important muscle—the heart. Studies have shown that patients with congestive heart failure who take CoQ10 have fewer hospitalizations and fewer episodes of pulmonary edema and angina. While higher doses may be taken under a physician’s supervision, 30-60 milligrams daily is recommended for prevention.
Niacin has been shown to decrease triglycerides and LDL cholesterol while significantly elevating HDL. Niacin at therapeutic dosage levels of 1.5-3 grams daily may cause flushing, which deters many patients. A flush-free form of niacin called inositol hexanicotinate gives patients the maximum benefit without the unpleasant side effects.
Cardiovascular health is a major issue for all Americans, but statistics have shown that men tend to develop heart disease at a much younger age. Positive lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation can decrease risk. Speak to a clinician or pharmacist today about how to achieve optimal heart health!
Shannon Fields is a freelance writer and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Innovative Pharmacy Solutions. She holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Shannon lives in Edmond with her husband and two daughters.