While cardiovascular diseases affect both genders, men are twice as likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease than women. So, why is this the case?
What makes men more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases?
Research suggests that lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle, play a vital role in the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Men tend to be more prone to these risk factors than women. For instance, men are more likely to smoke and drink excessively, two habits that significantly increase the risk of heart disease and other health issues.
Further studies have also shown that men tend to have higher levels of cholesterol and body fat than women, which can worsen and increase the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis and heart diseases.
For example, a report by the South African Medical Research Council found that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the country, with men being more likely to die from these diseases than women.
The report stated that in 2016, there were over 60 000 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, accounting for 18% of all deaths in the country, and that the mortality rate for men due to cardiovascular diseases was 179 per 100 000 population.
However, despite the higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases among men, it's crucial to note that women are not immune.
Women are often underdiagnosed and face a higher risk of dying from heart attacks when they do occur, possibly due to differences in symptoms and a lack of awareness.
The Heart Foundation has compiled top tips to help men adopt healthy habits to improve their physical and mental well-being.
Observed annually from June 12 - 18, Men's Health Week in 2023 focuses on promoting healthier habits for men to improve their physical and mental health.
During Men's Health Week, Heart Foundation Senior Food & Nutrition Advisor Jemma O'Hanlon said men are becoming more aware of their risk factors and the importance of health.
“Men’s Health Week is a great opportunity to start and build on conversations about healthy living. We always encourage small changes that can be adapted into people’s daily routines.
Generally, that doesn’t mean giving up a favourite food entirely but rather making small swaps daily.”
“The same applies to exercise, which may begin with gentle walking routines that might lead to something more strenuous in the future. Initially, however, it's about making regular and sustainable changes,” she said.
The Heart Foundation’s tips for healthy eating and exercise by O’Hanlon
- Boost your diet with potassium-rich fruit and vegetables to help lower blood pressure.
- Enjoy more healthy fats from salmon, avocado and nuts to help lower cholesterol.
- Snack on Greek yoghurt for the ultimate high protein boost, pre or post-exercise.
- Beef up meat dishes with additional legumes or lentils.
Physical activity's mental health benefits, by Elizabeth Calleja, Senior Advisor, Heart Foundation
When you walk for 30 minutes or more a day, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke by 30 %, and type 2 diabetes by 40 %.
Walking benefits more than just your heart and muscles. It also helps improve our daily mood, which cumulatively leads to better mental health.
For most people, walking is an easy way to start and maintain an active lifestyle. It doesn’t require special skills, instruction or equipment and it’s free.
Walking is a great way to be active. People can join an existing group in their local area or start their own group.
Joining a Walking Group is a great way to connect with other people socially and be active. It is also great for your mental and physical health: take a friend or make new friends while you walk!
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