Heart Disease In Men

by Khyati Kapur

Heart Disease In Men

If you thought cancer was the top killer disease in the U.S, you’re gravely mistaken. 

Heart disease is actually the number one leading cause of death, regardless of gender, race and ethnicity. Why is heart disease so deadly? Often times, people aren’t even aware their hearts are damaged until they have a heart attack or feel other symptoms that lead them to the hospital.

Since over half a million people die each year from heart disease in the U.S alone, it’s very important for you to understand what heart disease is, what are the most common risk factors, and how you can live a lifestyle of prevention from this disease.

But why do more men end up with heart disease than women? That’s the focus of this article, so keep reading to learn how you can best take care of yourself, your family, and not fall victim to this highly preventable disease.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease only involves diseases related to the heart itself, whereas a similar term, cardiovascular disease, relates to all diseases associated with the cardiovascular system (this includes all the blood vessels throughout the body).

Within the umbrella term “heart disease,” by far the biggest killer is coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease (CAD). 

CHD occurs mainly due to a process of atherosclerosis, which means that the coronary arteries of the heart are narrowed from fat deposits and plaque material. 

To better understand heart disease, we also need to define the following key terms:

  • Heart attack, where blood flow to the heart gets blocked, usually due to blockage of a coronary artery. This often occurs suddenly, and can even happen without a person realizing it.
  • Heart failure, where the heart muscle gets weaker and pumps less blood. This often occurs over a long period of time.
  • Heart (cardiac) arrest, where the heart stops beating suddenly. This is usually due to a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system. That’s why CPR and defibrillation are the two treatments given to someone experiencing cardiac arrest, where CPR adds oxygen temporarily, while defibrillation is an electric shock given to restore a person’s heart beat. 

All three of the above conditions (heart attack, failure, and arrest) are ways that heart disease can rear its ugly head. 

The reasons why heart disease is more prevalent in men

Before considering heart disease, it’s important to remember that the biological structure of the human heart is different between men and women. The way men and women respond to stress is also unique, and that difference is reflected in the heart’s reaction to stress. 

One study found that when men reach a certain level of stress, their blood pressure and heart rate would increase (due to constriction of the heart arteries), while women would experience reduced blood flow to the heart and an increased risk of blood clot formation [1]. 

Yet, in spite of these differences, researchers have found that women receive extra protection against heart disease thanks in part to higher levels of the hormone estrogen before reaching menopause. Higher levels of estrogen in premenopausal women protect against heart disease by acting as an antioxidant and by exhibiting anti-inflammatory effects [2].

Since men are more dominant in testosterone rather than estrogen, this hormonal difference helps somewhat explain why men get heart disease more often than women.

To understand why men are more susceptible to heart disease, we’ll also need to examine the risk factors, and there are many for heart disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lack of physical activity, and smoking. Sleep deprivation is another huge risk factor for heart disease, one that millions of Americans unfortunately suffer from on a daily basis.

Here at Seva Soul, we will also share risk factors that most pages don’t mention, but are extremely important for preventing heart disease. The key focus here is the bacteria you have in your body:

  • Oral microbial dysbiosis, or periodontal disease (gum disease), is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. If you’re not taking good care of your oral health, you’re giving the “bad” bacteria a chance to actually enter the rest of your body, since harmful bacteria from the mouth have been found in the plaque that’s responsible for the narrowed arteries in CHD [3].
  • The heart-gut axis. You’ve most likely heard about the gut-brain axis. But scientists are beginning to discover a powerful connection between the gut microbiome and how it affects our heart health [5]. Gut dysbiosis can lead to chronic inflammation, which is associated with leaky gut (intestinal permeability). Harmful microbes and their byproducts can bypass the “leaky” intestinal barrier and escape into other parts of the body (including the heart), which can lead to systemic inflammation and even onset of autoimmune disease [6].

Even though there’s a bunch of heart disease risk factors, it’s no joke that women on average take care of their health more seriously than men do, with statistics to back it up. Women will also visit a healthcare provider more often, while men tend to take more risky decisions. This excellent article covers the healthcare gap between men and women in greater depth.

We may never get a definitive answer for why men are more likely to get heart disease than women. But from inspecting both the biological differences in gender and the risk factors for heart disease, we can glean that lifestyle decisions play a huge role in the development of this fatal disease.

Steps to prevent heart disease and having a heart-healthy life 

There’s no reason to suffer from heart disease or any of its fatal consequences (heart attack, heart failure, and cardiac arrest) when you make conscious decisions to live a healthy lifestyle each day. So how can you prevent heart disease?

Some key steps include [7]: 

  • Taking good care of the microbes in your body. This means taking care of your oral hygiene (brushing and flossing your teeth regularly), and your gut health by consuming probiotics, and eating food that will serve as prebiotics to feed the gut bacteria.
  • And finally, when possible reduce your exposure to harmful environmental toxins, including smoke, pesticides, and industrial waste. 

And even if you’re a male reading this, you’re not at a disadvantage compared to women. Hopefully by reading this article, you’ve learned that your lifestyle choices are very crucial in putting you at risk for heart disease or protecting against it. With heart disease, the saying “think before you act” can prove to be life saving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Khyati Kapur
Khyati Kapur

Author