(Medical Xpress)—Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men, and the hearts of one of eight men over age 40 will at some point suddenly stop beating – an event known as sudden cardiac arrest.
June is both National Men's Health Month and CPR and AED Awareness Month, making it a good time to revisit ways to prevent heart disease.
"A healthy lifestyle is the best prevention against heart disease," says Dr. Charles Katzenberg, a University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center member and a UA clinical professor of medicine.
He offers the following seven prevention tips:
- See a doctor. Learn what your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers mean. Ask your doctor what to do to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
- Lose some belly. Exercise and diet will improve your appearance, your arteries and your ability to do more fun activities. Eat more plants and fewer animals, including dairy products. Minimize calorie-dense oils, including olive oil. Try canola oil, which has less saturated fat and more omega-3. Skip trans fats, added salt and added sugars. No need to go overboard; a Body Mass Index of 25-30 is reasonable for heart health.
- Get moving. Walk, jog, bike, swim, do circuit weight training, take aerobic exercise classes – whatever it takes – three to four hours each week. Include intervals, a warm-up and cool down each session. If you're a couch potato, get a treadmill test first.
- Stop smoking. Just do it.
- Stress less. More meditation could mean less heart rehabilitation. If tai chi, meditation or yoga stress you out, do what works for you – read a book, listen to music, exercise. Do it 30 to 60 minutes each day. Manage anger, learn to listen, enjoy friends and family.
- Call 911. A heart attack can take many forms – extreme chest pain or chest pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or upper stomach, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, weakness and fatigue. If in doubt, shout out for the emergency pros.
- Know what cardiac arrest looks like and what to do about it. Watch this video to learn chest-compression-only CPR, which was developed by doctors at the Sarver Heart Center.
Katzenberg notes that even if you do your best to follow a healthy lifestyle, you still may develop heart disease, so it's important to be aware of the signs.
"There are risk factors for heart disease no one can control, such as advanced age and genes," he says. "It's important to know the signs of a heart attack and to seek early heart attack care when symptoms occur, to minimize heart muscle loss."