This time of year, Dad is on everyone’s minds, and when it comes to keeping him healthy, it's all about the heart.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, responsible for 1 in 4 male deaths. Even if you’ve never had heart problems, that’s no excuse to put off some heart healthy habits.
The CDC says between 70 and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men so, if you’re a man, it’s time to start kicking these heart healthy habits into high gear.
Chow down on these five fruits and veggies
Firing up the grill for Father’s Day? Good on you. Just make room on the barbecue for heart healthy fruits and veggies. Summer produce such as zucchini, corn, tomatoes, pineapple and peaches are delicious over an open flame, and your heart will thank you for it. According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes five servings of fruits and vegetables per day to boost heart health. Because lifestyle changes are daunting, Mayo Clinic recommends “don’t worry so much about foods you shouldn’t eat, just work on getting five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”
Heed the snore
If you’ve been told you could raise the dead with nighttime snoring patterns, don’t ignore the complaints. Not only will it likely improve your relationship with the complainer, it could also save your heart. Snoring is often caused by sleep apnea, a condition in which you intermittently stop breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea affects more men than women and, according to the American Heart Association, it’s associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure. If you’re a habitual snorer, tell your doctor.
Catch some Z’s
Take advantage of that Father’s Day breakfast in bed, and make sure it’s not too early. Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least eight hours of quality sleep per night (keyword: quality). If you’re accustomed to burning the candle at both ends, Mayo Clinic recommends trying to get your eight hours per night for just two weeks. Chances are, it’ll become an easy habit once you realize how much better you feel.
Take some time off
Even if your workaholic tendencies aren’t breaking your family’s hearts, they might be damaging your own. According to Men’s Health, a little overtime might kill you. Research shows a 55-hour workweek increases your risk of heart disease by 16 percent when compared with a 45-hour week. A 65-hour week spikes it by 33 percent.
Focus on fish
While the stress-relieving act of fishing might have positive effects on your heart, eating fish should be a go-to heart healthy habit. Mayo Clinic says fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon, has a positive health effect. Not only does substituting these unsaturated fats for the saturated variety found in red meat help lower cholesterol, the omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation (which can damage blood vessels), decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and decrease heart failure risk, among other benefits. Shoot for at least two servings of oily fish per week, which appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death, according to Mayo Clinic.
Schedule an annual physical
Men are less likely to get an annual physical or health screening than women. According to Gallup, 83 percent of women report getting an annual checkup, while just 73 percent of men do. The younger the man, the worse it is. Just 66 percent of men, younger than age 50, are getting routine checkups. A basic health screening or physical identifies certain risk factors for heart disease — including high blood pressure and high cholesterol — and gives you a baseline to work with if those numbers change.