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Men's Health: Matters of the Heart

Heart disease remains the single leading cause of death in the United States. In 2006 alone, 26% of the men who died, did so due to heart disease, affecting more than one in every four men.(1)What many don’t realize is that half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.(2) Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

Taking Risks with your Heart?

Being in a relationship isn’t the only way you risk hurting your heart. Picking up a cigarette, gaining too much weight, and choosing the wrong foods can also damage your heart. But unlike a broken heart from that special someone, a broken heart from a heart attack may not mend over time and you can’t have a “rebound” heart or quickly move on to another one! While you may not be able to control your risk factors for a broken heart, you can control your risk factors for heart disease.

• Quit Smoking: An estimated 251 million men put themselves at risk of heart attack by smoking. Smoking significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. Plus, no one likes kissing a smoker!

• Get More Exercise: National recommendations are for adults to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. In 2004, 30% of adults followed these guidelines. Start moving and get all the benefits of regular exercise including reducing the risk of CHD and high blood pressure.

• Lose weight: Being overweight increases risks for heart disease and other chronic conditions. Maintain a healthy weight to support heart and overall health. Plus, you’ll look and feel better about yourself!

• Eat Healthy: saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk for atherosclerosis, a primary cause of heart attack and stroke. No doubt, you are familiar with the advice to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leaner meats and to eat smaller portions. Yet statistics/surveys show that Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables, more meat, bigger portions, and thus more fat and calories.

Nutrition: Making Wise Choices

Mom said clean your plate--not clean your platter! Americans are eating more because of oversized portions on oversized plates. The Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture suggests that average daily calorie consumption in the U.S. increased 16% (that’s 523 calories) between 1970 and 2003. Between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes for key food groups grew significantly in the U.S., not only at restaurants, but at home too. One study of portion sizes for typical items showed that soft drinks have increased from 144 to 193 calories and hamburgers have increased from 389 to 486 calories! To control portion size, eat your meals on smaller plates and keep in mind that even fast food restaurants now offer healthier selections.


Where your diet may lack, supplements can help fill in the gaps. Choose a multivitamin to ensure your body gets the essentials it needs to maintain health. Also, care for your heart by supplementing with fish oil. Fish oil, which contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the risk for coronary heart disease. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids may also promote heart health by influencing the body to keep the amount of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) within a normal range. In addition, consider adding a vitamin D supplement (at least 1000 IU/day) since studies show vitamin D may help support heart health.


1. Heron MP, Hoyert DL, Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final data for 2006 [PDF–2.3M]. National Vital Statistics Reports; Vol. 57 No. 14. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.
2. Lloyd-Jones D, Adams RJ, Brown TM, et al.
Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2010 Update. A Report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee.* Circulation. 2010;121:e1-e170.

*Links to non–Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.

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