Statistically men have a shorter lifespan than women. American women live five years longer than men according to the World Health Organization. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Men in particular are known to avoid doctor’s appointments, partake in riskier behavior such as excessive drinking and smoking, and have a higher risk of developing heart disease at an earlier age than women.
Here are a few steps to lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease as you age:
1. Know your cholesterol levels beginning as early as your 20’s. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, your body needs cholesterol to produce hormones, Vitamin D, and substances to help digest food. Too much cholesterol can build in your arteries and cause a blockage resulting in stroke or a heart attack, both of which can be fatal. Knowing if your cholesterol levels are high, low, or normal in your 20’s will help you develop preemptive measures to eliminate unhealthy habits if they are abnormal.
2. Move every day. Getting at least 30-minutes of physical activity a day can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease. Among other benefits, exercising as you age will also help maintain quality of life, mobility, and memory function. “Symptoms that we associate with old age – such as weakness and loss of balance – are actually symptoms of inactivity,” according to Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Even men in assisted care facilities can begin to exercise under provision of their physician and reap the benefits of moving.
“Getting at least 30-minutes of physical activity a day can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease.”
3. Opt for healthier options and eat produce with every meal. Decrease your intake of saturated fats including dairy or red meat. Decrease, if not exclude trans fats, which include baked goods and food made with hydrogenated oils. Exclude, if not eliminate processed meats, processed foods high in added sugar, or artificially flavored ingredients. Consult a nutritionist or your physician to get you started on the right track.
4. Consult your physician. Maintaining proper screenings and proactive measurements to reduce cardiovascular disease at any age will help you live a longer life. Be practical, listen to what your doctor is recommending and do what you can to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Obviously, the younger you are the better it is to begin, but choosing to build better habits will no doubt help you at any age in your life.