milllion hearts

Men and Heart Disease: Prevention Is Paramount

Million Hearts 2027®: Preventing Cardiovascular Events One Heart at a Time

Every 36 seconds in the United States, one adult dies from cardiovascular disease (CVD) … a life shortened because of a disease that can often be prevented. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths of men across most racial and ethnic groups.

The Million Hearts initiative focuses on prevention by implementing effective strategies, preventing heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events is possible … one heart at a time.

Recognize Symptoms of Heart Disease

Sometimes heart disease may be “silent.” But it’s important to recognize the signs or symptoms of a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or arrhythmia. These symptoms may start suddenly and 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.
  • Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering or racing feelings in the chest (palpitations).
  • Stroke: F.A.S.T.: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.

Even without symptoms, men may still be at risk for heart disease. It’s important to understand your risk. Be proactive—ask your doctor to review and discuss your risk for heart disease or stroke. If you have any of the urgent symptoms of heart disease, don’t dismiss them. Act immediately.

Understand the Risks for Heart Disease

Half of adult men in the United States are living with high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases the risk for both heart disease and stroke. Millions of adults with high blood pressure do not have it under control. High blood pressure often does not cause specific symptoms. That’s why getting your blood pressure checked regularly and working with your health care team to maintain a healthy blood pressure is so important.

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle patterns can also put men at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High or abnormal cholesterol
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Family history of heart disease at an early age
  • Smoking

Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease

To reduce your chance of heart disease or stroke, it’s important to:

  • Check your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart disease and increased risk of stroke. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you are living with high blood pressure, partner with your health care team to ensure your blood pressure is well controlled (less than 130/80 mm Hg). Learn more about high blood pressure.
  • Ask your health care team about if you should be tested for diabetes. Having diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. Learn more about diabetes.
  • Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, learn ways to quit.
  • Discuss checking your cholesterol levels with your health care team. Learn more about cholesterol.
  • Make healthy food choices. Focus on a heart-healthy diet. Being overweight or obese (having a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher) raises your risk of heart disease. Learn more about overweight and obesity.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than two servings per day. Learn more about the impact of alcohol.
  • Speak with your family to learn if there is a family history of early heart disease.
  • Lower your stress level as best you can and try to find healthy ways to cope with stress. Learn more about coping with stress.

Learn More About Million Hearts 2027® 

Million Hearts 2027® is a national initiative co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events in the next 5 years. Million Hearts® 2027 prioritizes building healthy communities and optimizing care by focusing on populations experiencing inequities. Learn more about these Million Hearts 2027® and CDC Foundation campaigns and announcements:

  • COVID-19 Public Service Announcements (PSAs). These PSAs spotlight the importance of heart health during the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging people to keep up with their regular heart health appointments and to seek emergency treatment when needed.
  • Start Small. Live Big. This campaign encourages adults, particularly those age 55 and older, to get back on track with the small steps—like scheduling their medical appointments, getting active, and eating healthy—so that they can get back to living big.
  • Live to the Beat. This campaign focuses on empowering African American people ages 35 to 54 to pursue a heart-healthy lifestyle on their own terms—to find what works best individually and consistently and live to their own beat.

Take the steps to protect your heart health today and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Visit Million Hearts to learn more.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Laurence S. Sperling, M.D.

View posts by Laurence S. Sperling, M.D.
Laurence S. Sperling, M.D., FACC, FAHA, FACP, FASPC is the current Executive Director of the Million Hearts Initiative for the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  He is the Founder and was the Director of The Heart Disease Prevention Center at Emory since 1997.  He is currently the Katz Professor in Preventive Cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine, and Professor of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health. He served as the President of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology from 2014-2016, served on the writing committee of 2018 the ACC/ AHA Guideline on the Management on Blood Cholesterol, and served as Chair of the World Heart Federation writing group on the Roadmap for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention among People Living with Diabetes. Dr. Sperling was the recipient of the 2017 Award of Honor from the Alumni Association of Emory University School of Medicine. He has received awards for excellence in teaching (including 4 Golden Apple Awards and The Dean’s Teaching Award), mentorship (Emory SOM 2018 Mentorship Award), and the R. Wayne Alexander Research mentor award. He has authored over 350 manuscripts/ abstracts/ books, and has been an invited speaker on every continent except Antarctica.

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