Heart smarts: Look out for number one

February 25, 2008

Heart disease is the number one killer of people of both sexes in developed countries. Because men usually develop heart disease around 10 to 15 years earlier than women do, they're more likely to die of it in the prime of life. About one-fourth of all heart-disease-related deaths occur in men ages 35 to 65.

But here's the good news: You can reduce your risk of heart disease by making healthier lifestyle choices and getting appropriate treatment for other conditions that can increase your risk of coronary artery disease, like high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. Some preventive measures you can take:

Give up smoking
Eat a varied diet rich in fruits and veggies and avoid high-fat foods
Maintain a healthy weight
Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol
Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week
Have your cholesterol tested
If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control
Get regular blood pressure checks

Many men – especially younger ones – think they are "bullet proof", thinking illness isn't ever going to affect them. It's short-sighted to think you can abuse your body and keep it functioning optimally. Make the small changes today that will bring big returns, now and in the future.

10 symptoms not to ignore

We all know that the obvious signs and symptoms – chest pain, abdominal pain or unexplained bleeding – are generally good reason to seek immediate medical care. We also know that men are notoriously bad at visiting the doctor, and the not-so-obvious symptoms may have you questioning whether you need to make an appointment.

Here's a list of warning symptoms, some of which you may find surprising. Be aware of the significance of these symptoms and when it's important to seek timely medical care. It could make a difference in your quality of life and may even save your life.

1. Unexplained weight loss

If you find you're losing a lot of weight without intending to do so, see your doctor. Unintentional excessive weight loss is considered to be a loss of more than 5 percent of your weight within one month or 10 percent of your weight within six to 12 months.

2. Persistent fever

If you have a normal immune system and you're not undergoing treatment, like chemotherapy for cancer, a persistent low-grade fever should be checked if it lasts for a week or more. If you have a fever with shaking chills or a high fever, see your doctor as soon as possible.

3. Shortness of breath

Feeling short of breath can signal an underlying health problem. If you're unable to catch your breath or that you're gasping for air or wheezing, seek emergency medical care. Feeling breathless with or without exertion or when lying down is also something that should be medically evaluated without delay.

4. Unexplained changes in bowel habits

See your doctor if you have any of the following:
Severe diarrhoea lasting more than two days
Mild diarrhoea lasting a week
Constipation that lasting over two weeks
Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement
Bloody diarrhoea
Black or tarry-coloured stools

5. Mental status changes

Immediate medical evaluation is warranted if any of the following occur: Sudden or gradual confused thinking, disorientation, uncharacteristic aggressive behaviour, and hallucinations.

6. New or increasingly severe headaches (especially if you're over age 50)

Seek prompt medical attention if you experience a sudden and severe headache; a headache accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, rash, mental confusion, seizures, vision changes, weakness, numbness, speaking difficulties, scalp tenderness or pain with chewing; or a headache that begins or worsens after a head injury.

7. Short-term loss of vision, speaking or movement control

If you have these signs and symptoms, minutes count. These are signs and symptoms of a possible stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Seek immediate emergency medical care if you experience sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of your body; sudden dimness, blurring or loss of vision; loss of speech, or trouble talking or understanding speech; sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a fall.

8. Flashes of light

The sudden sensation of flashing lights can signal the start of retinal detachment and immediate medical care may be needed to save vision in the affected eye.

9. Feeling full after eating very little

Feeling full sooner than normal after eating, along with persistent nausea and vomiting that lasts more than a week, are signs that you should see your doctor.

10. Hot, red or swollen joint

These warning signs may occur with a joint infection, which requires emergency care to save the joint and keep bacteria from spreading elsewhere. Other causes may include gout or certain types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis. – © Mens Clinic International

See also
More Benefits of Exercise in Men, for the Prostate and Sexuality



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