Men's Health

Men are not Immune

Men look after your hearts
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We have to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men. What we all need to acknowledge is that by being physically active and making sure you fit in some form of daily exercise, you can reduce your risk of most major illnesses.

Heart attacks and cardiac arrests 
Heart disease is the most common killer of men between the ages of 35 and 44 in most countries (in South Africa, it is trauma). In men over 45  years old, it is number one. 

The heart circulates the blood throughout the body. As such, it needs an energy supply to work, in this case a flow of blood with oxygen and nutrients. Sometimes the arteries that feed the heart, called the coronary arteries, get clogged up with a combination of fats and clotted blood. If a blood clot suddenly blocks off a clogged artery altogether, the heart stops getting the fuel it needs, the cells start starving and dying, and the pump can stop working.

Cardiac arrests are different. Your heart is triggered to beat with regular electrical impulses. But if these electrical impulses become erratic, causing an irregular heartbeat called an arrhythmia, it may not work. When it is fatal, cardiac arrest is known by the doleful name of ‘sudden cardiac death’.

High blood pressure
High blood pressure, in men and women, is a big problem. Every day, 30 South Africans die from heart attacks and 60 from strokes alone. Seventy percent of these occur in people younger than 55 years of age. It is estimated that one in four South Africans between the ages of 15 and 64 years suffer from high blood pressure. 

Typically, blood pressure increases with age. Risk of high blood pressure begins to climb when men hit 45, although it can occur in younger men. Obesity or a family history of high blood pressure also increases risk. But there is plenty you can do to prevent, delay and treat the condition.

There are various symptoms that act as warning signals. In advanced cases, headaches, visual disturbances, nosebleeds, nausea and vomiting, sleepiness and even seizures may be experienced. Small bulges, called aneurysms, may form in blood vessels. The heart can become enlarged, increasing the danger of heart failure. Damage to blood vessels in the kidneys can cause them to fail. 

High cholesterol 
With the way many men like to eat, the risk of high cholesterol begins as early as our 20s and continues rising. The need to include food other than red meat within their diets has increased immensely over the past 10 years.  High cholesterol, also called hypercholesteraemia, puts men at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and peripheral artery disease. The only way to know how high your cholesterol levels are, is to have a simple blood test done. 

Cholesterol, a fat-like substance, is an essential building block of cells. But if levels of certain forms of cholesterol climb too high in the blood, it can build up on the walls of arteries like rust on the inside of a pipe. This buildup eventually blocks blood flow to the heart muscle, reducing its oxygen supply. If levels of blood and oxygen to the heart drop far enough, the result can be chest pain and/or shortness of breath. 
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