Heart disease puts more people in the hospital than any other disease.
It affects half of all Americans age 55 and over, and half of all deaths
from heart disease happen without any prior symptoms.
St. Joseph Hoag Health is emphasizing the importance of preventive care to men’s heart
health, and I’d like to remind you why you need to get regular checkups
and take proper care of your heart early on:
You need to identify your risk factors. When you come in for an exam, one of the things the doctor needs to do
is to conduct a series of tests to see whether you’re at particular
risk of any of the more common disorders—checking for things like
hypertension, clogged arteries, and diabetes. Many of the screenings performed
have a connection to heart disease. The doctor should also be informed
about your family’s medical history, because some heart diseases
can be passed down genetically. Tell the doctor about whether family members
have had heart attacks, cancer, or strokes.
You may need to modify your lifestyle. Changing any habits that put you at risk is perhaps the most important
step you can take to prevent heart disease. Once you and your doctor have
your exam results, you need to act on the information. It’s said
that showing up is half of the race. This is true--being diligent about
getting checkups is a necessary first step--but making the changes you
need to make is the other half of the race. Weight management, proper
diet and exercise, quitting smoking—you need to commit to following
through on your doctor’s advice. The big advantage of making recommended
lifestyle changes is that it’s preventive. Making those changes
can reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the need for prescriptions and hospital
visits later on.
Younger men need checkups too. From your late teens onward, you should get annual checkups even if you
feel there’s nothing wrong with you. You may believe you’re
healthy, and hopefully you are, but you’re not a doctor. That’s
why you need one. For example, you need a checkup to determine whether
you have high cholesterol. High cholesterol can run in the family, and
the symptoms of high cholesterol don’t show until significant damage
has been done. Your cholesterol levels are an important factor in diagnosing
your personal risk for a heart attack or stroke, and the only way to get
the numbers on your cholesterol is to get examined.
Heart problems can be signaled by other conditions. Did you know that erectile dysfunction has positive correlation to cardiovascular
disease, heart attack, and stroke? A lack of blood flow to the penis may
indicate the presence of other circulatory problems, because if the blood
isn’t flowing properly to one part of the body, it may not be flowing
to other parts, such as the heart, brain, or legs. This is an example
of why it’s important to see your doctor regularly and fully discuss
any concerns you have, because a seemingly unrelated symptom can flag
potential problems that your doctor may feel warrant further investigation.
St. Joseph Hoag Health is encouraging men to “Step Up to the Plate”
during Men’s Health Month, but everybody needs a healthy heart.
As a cardiologist at St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, I’m proud
to be affiliated with our Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence, our
Women’s Heart Center, the first facility in Orange County dedicated
to preventing, detecting, and treating heart disease in women. St. Joseph
Heritage Medical Group provides complete, compassionate care to men and
women suffering from cardiac and vascular disease, and promotes and supports
heart healthy communities.
To find out more about Dr. Johnston,
click here. For more information about St. Joseph Hoag Health,