Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, Discusses Five Heart Health Mistakes Men Make:

Everyone wants great heart health, but long-ingrained habits can often work against people trying to make good choices for their health. “Men, in particular tend to over-prioritize work and stoicism, and under-prioritize self care,” says Dr. Jeffrey Morgan who is cardiovascular surgeon from Houston, Texas, and this can put them at particular risk for heart disease.

Here are five common heart-health mistakes men make, and how to correct them before it’s too late.

Drinking high-sugar alcohols.

A beer with the guys at the bar is a popular Friday night pastime for a lot of hardworking gents out there (not to mention Saturday afternoons by the pool, a drink after work to relax each night, and the odd weekend away fishing and downing shots).

But according to cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, regular alcohol consumption, particularly of high-sugar alcohols, can cause significant weight gain — a leading cause of heart disease. Alcohol in general can also raise blood pressure and put more stress on the heart.

So, what can you do about it? For optimal heart health, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day, and avoid binge drinking altogether. Choose low-sugar options and consider decreasing the overall amount.

Not being honest with the doctor about medications.

Men are less likely than women to report certain things to their doctor: depression, pain, and erectile dysfunction are all things that many men suffer from in silence. But high doses of anti-inflammatory medication and erectile dysfunction medications can both interact with cardio health in a negative way.

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, a graduate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has spent many years aiming to lower complication rates in heart surgery patients. He stresses the importance of being honest with your doctor about your medication. Heart patients on nitroglycerin medication, for example, cannot take erectile dysfunction medications at the same time, because it can cause dangerous drops in blood pressure.

How can you make sure your doctor has the information s/he needs, even if you’re uncomfortable talking about it? Bring a list of your medications to every doctor’s appointment. That way you can simply hand the list to the doctor.

Not developing the skill of self-care:

Meditation, yoga, and talking to a therapist are all things that many men in high-stress jobs may prefer to avoid but putting off self care can mean a hugely increased risk for stress-induced disease like cardiovascular problems and depression.

Men who want to take excellent care of their health should consider working in a daily self-care routine that allows them to shut off the stress and increase their purposeful relaxation.

Ignoring the scale

It’s easy to shove the scale in the closet and ignore it another week, or month, or year, but as men tend to gain weight up to the age of 55, ignoring the increasing pounds can put them at increased risk for heart disease.

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan suggests taking the bull by the horns and starting that healthy-eating plan today rather than next year. Your heart will thank you.

Skipping the natural gym

Just like actively increasing activities that reduce stress, men should also seek out activities that increase the release of positive endorphins, like working out, taking long hikes, and simply walking or swimming in a relaxing environment. These activities not only reduce stress and give the cardiovascular system a workout, they also create a pattern of stress release and positive endorphins that encourages the person to repeat the activity over and over!

To see immediate results in a healthy heart, start spending more time in nature and less time behind the desk.

Written by

Professor of Surgery & Surgical Development of the Advanced Heart Failure Center of Excellence at Baylor College of Medicine

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