Heart Health for Men - Keeping your Ticker, Ticking

Did you know that cardiovascular disease, specifically coronary artery disease, is the leading underlying cause of death in Australia. It is also more common in males than females, particularly in the younger and middle age group.

This week is Men’s Health Week (15-12st June 2020) and it is a week dedicated to spreading awareness around health concerns which commonly affect men, as well as aiming to improve the way health advice and services are delivered to men.

Cardiovascular disease is an important topic as it typically affects more men than women and it is a group of diseases which can often be prevented through lifestyle and diet management.

The three common cardiovascular concerns and diseases include:

  • Hypertension - characterised by high blood pressure which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Coronary Artery Disease - characterised by the accumulation of lipids and fibrous tissue within the arteries, eventually obstructing blood flow.

  • Cardiovascular Ischemia (angina) - characterised by reduced blood flow to the heart, causing chest pain and heart attack.

Reducing your risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is commonly referred to as a ‘lifestyle disease’ which means it is a non-communicable disease (so you can’t catch it!) and it is generally linked to the way a person lives their life. Which is great news because it means it can be prevented!

Typically, cardiovascular disease is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation. So, to help prevent cardiovascular disease and keep your heart ticking along, adjusting your diet and lifestyle to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation is crucial.

  1. Weight management - those who are overweight carry a much higher risk of cardiovascular concerns and disease. Reducing your weight to a healthy BMI between 18.5–24.9, will significantly reduce this risk.

  2. Quit smoking - we know that smoking is bad for our health in general and it leads to many deleterious health effects. Smoking increases your risk of high blood pressure as well as arterial stiffness, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.

  3. Diet - your diet can significantly impact your risk of cardiovascular disease. It is not surprising that a diet high in processed foods has been associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) and other cardiovascular complications. Processed foods are typically high in saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt, making them overall inflammatory foods to the body and exacerbating health conditions, such as high blood pressure.

  • Remove processed foods from the diet - these include foods such as McDonalds and other fast foods, packaged foods, such as biscuits and chips, pastries and pies, etc.

  • Instead, increase the amount of wholefoods in your diet. These are all the foods you find in the fresh food section in your supermarket - fruits and vegetables, grass fed and free-range meat, yogurt (with no added sugar!), cheese and milk. Legumes and tofu are also a great source of vegetarian protein. Aim for at least 3-4 vegetarian meals per week.

  • Increase good fats in your diet - olive oil, nuts and seeds and oily wild-caught fish.

4. Exercise - has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Those who are trying to prevent cardiovascular disease or those who have clinically stable cardiovascular disease should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. Moderate exercises can include walking, cycling and swimming. NOTE: Always speak to your doctor or healthcare professional first before starting any new exercise routine.

There are also a number of specific nutrients which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including vitamin E, EPA and DHA, magnesium and more, however, it is important to speak to a professional before starting a new supplement. Come in and chat to our pharmacists and naturopaths for more information on whether supplementation could benefit you.

About the Author

Casey is a clinical naturopath and nutritionist and the founder of The Natural Path Health. She has a passion for identifying and treating the root cause of disease to achieve long-lasting health goals with her clients. "I love helping my clients regain their energy and vitality for life."