Heart disease is an umbrella term that covers several health issues, such as arrhythmias, angina, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and heart infections. These health conditions are the most dangerous health risks for men today. The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that more than one in three adult men suffers from heart disease. Therefore, recognizing the early signs of heart disease is vital for men’s health.
Heart disease can occur without any apparent symptoms. Sometimes, a heart attack or another urgent heart-related event can be the first indication of heart disease in men. However, some earlier signs and symptoms can be observed in most cases, which may contribute to the prevention of a heart attack, stroke, or other complications associated with heart disease.
The initial indication of heart disease doesn’t have to lead to a cardiac arrest or another severe incident. There are several warning signs that can help you identify cardiovascular issues before they reach a critical point. In the early stages, you may notice mildly concerning symptoms that appear and disappear. For instance, you may experience heart arrhythmias, which can lead to:
Most forms of heart disease involve the narrowing of blood vessels. This narrowing is usually caused by plaque buildup, making it harder for your heart to pump oxygenated blood to all parts of your body. Signs of heart disease related to blood vessels often include:
Besides the symptoms mentioned earlier, cardiovascular disease can result from a heart infection. In that case, you may experience a dry cough, fever, and skin rashes. Additionally, a combination of risk factors can indicate the likelihood of developing heart disease. For instance, having diabetes and high blood pressure puts you at a significantly higher risk of heart disease.
A heart attack results from the interruption of the blood flow from other body parts to the cardiac muscle. The primary symptom of a heart attack in men is sudden chest discomfort that involves pain, squeezing, or pressure. It was previously believed that only chest pain indicated a heart attack, but the discomfort before a heart attack is not always painful. You can also feel discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arms, or abdomen.
Signs of a stroke include feeling numb or weak on just one side of your body. You can experience this sense of numbness in your face, arms, or legs. Additional symptoms of a stroke may include:
Heart disease is the top cause of death for both men and women. However, it can affect men and women differently due to differences in their overall anatomy and, thereby, in their cardiovascular systems. Men have larger hearts and wider blood vessels than women, which can cause heart disease to progress differently.
When it comes to cholesterol buildup in males, it usually occurs in the biggest arteries responsible for supplying the heart with blood. On the other hand, women are more prone to developing this buildup in the heart's tiniest blood vessels, called the microvasculature.
Men and women can go through different symptoms before and during a heart attack. The most common sign for men is chest pressure. Women also experience this symptom, but they also report feeling nauseous, sweaty, or vomiting. They are also more likely to feel pain in their throat, jaw, neck, abdomen, or back.
It is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and understand the differences between men and women. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, do not hesitate to call 911 for urgent medical assistance.