Dear Healthy Men: What’s the top cause of death in men and what can guys do to reduce their risk?
A: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) — which includes heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, atrial fabulation (A-Fib) high blood pressure, and other conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels — is by far the biggest killer of men (and women) in this country, accounting for about one in every four deaths.
CVD is also a major cause of disability and decreases the quality of life for millions. Because CVD interferes with your heart’s ability to pump blood through your body, it can keep you from working, spending time with friends and family, playing with your children or grandchildren, climbing stairs, carrying groceries in from the car, and even having sex.
Even if you don’t have cardiovascular disease now, you may have one or more habits or conditions that could increase the chance that you’ll develop it. Look at the list of statements below. If any of them are true about you, make an appointment to see your health care provider today. Just one “Yes” answer means you are at risk. Two “Yes” answers doesn’t just double your risk — it actually quadruples it (increases it by four times). Having three factors increases your risk by 10 times:
— I’m 45 or older. (Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease doubles each decade.
— An immediate family member (father, mother, brother, sister) was diagnosed with high blood pressure or some other kind of heart condition before age 55.
— I’m African American.
— I get little or no exercise.
— I’m overweight or obese.
— I eat a lot of salty foods and/or I add salt to what I’m eating.