Men: Your Age-by-Age Guide to a Healthy Heart

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
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    It's no secret, heart disease is the number one killer of men in America. Unfortunately, many men think heart disease can’t touch them because they are too young, they are in great shape, or perhaps both.

     

    However, this common misconception is very dangerous for men of all ages. You only have to think of the young athletes who have died because of an unknown heart condition. 

     

    So, let's look at how to keep you heart healthy at any age


    Healthy heart in your 20’s

    Even though you feel invincible in your 20’s, this is the perfect age to start thinking about keeping your ticker healthy. If you can develop healthy habits at this age you will be more likely to keep these habits as you grow older. 

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    And, even though you are having no symptoms, there's no harm in visiting your doctor for a full checkup — cholesterol is important, as is getting an echocardiogram. This test is basically an ultrasound of the heart, which can detect abnormalities. An echocardiogram is painless and only takes about 30 minutes. 

     

    Checklist for your 20s

     

    • Healthy diet
    • 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week
    • Annual physical
    • Lipid profile: triglycerides level should be less than 150
    • Cholesterol levels: LDL less than 130, and HDL more than 40
    • Blood pressure: average 120/80
    • Echocardiogram

     

    Healthy heart in your 30’s

    Even if your heart was declared healthy while you were in your 20s, it is still very important to repeat an echocardiogram when you reach your 30s. Sometimes it takes several decades for a hereditary heart condition to show up. Doctors recommend an echocardiogram every ten years. 

     

    If you are over 35, you should also insist upon an EKG. This is an electronic tracing of the heart, that determines heart rhythm and rate. Your doctor will be able to tell if you have any narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to a blockage of blood flow. It's recommended that men over 35 get an EKG every five years. 

     

    Checklist for your 30s

     

    • Healthy diet
    • 30 Minutes of exercise at least five time per week
    • Annual physical
    • Lipid profile: triglycerides level should be less than 150
    • Cholesterol levels: LDL less than 130, and HDL more than 40
    • Blood pressure: average 120/80
    • Echocardiogram
    • EKG (Electrocardiogram), if over 35

     

    Healthy heart in your 40s

    Once you hit 40, the game changes a little. It will be more difficult to maintain the same level of fitness of your 20s, your metabolism changes, and burning excess fat takes more effort.

     

    When you visit your doctor for your annual heart checkup, you should also ask for a C-reactive protein level. This is a simple blood test, which can measure the amount of inflammation in your body, and determines your level of risk for cardiovascular disease. 

     

    Checklist for your 40s

     

    • Healthy diet
    • 30 minutes of exercise at least five time per week
    • Annual physical
    • Lipid profile: triglycerides level should be less than 150
    • Cholesterol levels: LDL less than 130, and HDL more than 40
    • Blood pressure: average 120/80
    • Echocardiogram: if ten years since your last
    • EKG (Electrocardiogram): if five years since your last
    • C-Reactive Protein (CRP): level should be less than 1 mg per liter

     

  • Healthy heart in your 50s

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    When you hit your 50s, you are at your highest risk for developing heart disease. So, it's time to add a stress test to your battery of annual heart healthy tests.

     

    This test will have you walking on a treadmill, while your heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure are monitored. The purpose of this test is to determine how well your heart handles exertion. It can detect any blockages in your heart, and perhaps save you from a heart attack later in life. 

     

    Checklist for your 50s

     

    • Healthy diet
    • 30 minutes of exercise at least five time per week
    • Annual physical
    • Lipid profile: triglycerides level should be less than 150
    • Cholesterol levels: LDL less than 130, and HDL more than 40
    • Blood pressure: average 120/80
    • Echocardiogram: if ten years since your last
    • EKG (Electrocardiogram): if five years since your last
    • C-Reactive Protein (CRP): level should be less than 1 mg per liter
    • Exercise stress test

     

    Regardless of your age, if you experience sudden chest pain, or shortness of breath, you need to get to hospital right away. Don’t try to be macho and “deal with it” That type of attitude can be fatal.

     

     

    Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, and author of Dietriffic.com. Get her latest free report by visiting her website.

Published On: June 03, 2010