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Cardiovascular disease alarmingly high in men

Following the death of Shane Warne, more men are concerned about heart health

One in five men under the age of 40 can suffer from cardiac arrest (heart attack) or any other cardiac-related disease. Every hour, five people die from a heart attack in South Africa, making it the leading cause of death in the country following HIV/Aids.
Pharma Dynamic spokesperson Nicole Jennings says heart attacks are no longer linked to a person’s age.
‘What many don’t realise is that there are usually no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol, yet both increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
‘That’s why it is so important to have these checked by your GP on a regular basis, especially if you’re 40 or older,’ says Jennings.
Heart-related diseases are easily preventable, provided they are detected early, and there are a number of factors that negatively affect your heart health.

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These include:

1. Smoking damages blood vessels and contributes to heart disease. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than non-smokers. Quitting at any age is beneficial, but the earlier the better.

2. Unhealthy eating leads to excess weight gain and obesity, both of which cause cardiovascular disease. It also raises LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, which blocks the walls of blood vessels and increases blood pressure.

3. Excessive salt intake leads to water retention. This increases blood pressure and puts strain on blood vessels, the heart and other organs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than 5g of salt per day. To reduce salt consumption, limit the amount of processed food in your diet and cut back on the amount of salt you add to your food. For low-salt, heart-healthy recipes, make https://cookingfromtheheart.co.za/ your go-to

4. Physical inactivity heightens your risk of developing high blood pressure by 30-50%, as well as other diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Just 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise (brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming) three to four times a week will help keep your waistline in check while improving cardiac function.

5. Heavy drinking can also lead to hypertension and heart failure as it contributes to cardiomyopathy – a disorder that impairs the heart muscle.

6. Stress, especially long-term stress, increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which raises blood cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure – all common risk factors for heart disease. Chronic stress could also trigger unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking, smoking and other substance abuse, which are all bad for your heart.

‘We urge men 40 years and older to have regular heart checks done. This will inform your doctor about what lifestyle changes you need to make and if you will benefit from medicines to lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels. Your doctor will also test for diabetes, which is another causal factor of heart disease and needs to be managed carefully,’ says Jennings.

Alarming signs or symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain or discomfort, in some instances the pain can spread to the arms, neck and jaw or back. Nausea, indigestion and shortness of breath can be signs of a heart attack too. If you experience any of these symptoms, call national ambulance response on 10177.


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