When it comes to heart health men are in some ways a little luckier than women. As a man, you are more likely to survive your first heart attack, your symptoms are often more straight-forward and recognizable, and you often recover better after an attack.
However, all of that is dependent on you being aware of your heart health and risk factors and getting treatment if you have concerns. This is especially important because, although chest discomfort is still the most common sign of a heart problem, not all heart problems come with clear warning signs. Some don’t even happen in your chest.
Here are some important warning signs to be aware of:
The more risk factors you have the more you should be concerned about anything heart related. For example, if you’re 60 or older, overweight, diabetic, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, these are risk factors for a heart condition, and you should pay particular attention to changes in your health.
It’s important to speak to your health care practitioner regarding shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, or any other concerning symptoms. To determine the health of your heart, your doctor may perform a physical exam or order lab tests and imaging to investigate the cause for symptoms.
Imaging could include exams to find out how your heart performs under stress, such as an exercise stress test or myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI). Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) may also be appropriate.
CCTA can non-invasively examine the coronary arteries using a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce comprehensive, detailed images. It’s designed to look for plaque buildup in the arteries supplying the heart muscle (a risk factor for heart disease). Patients with family histories of heart disease may be at risk for developing atherosclerotic plaque buildup, blocking or narrowing these arteries. On CT, these can be identified even before symptoms of chest pain develop.
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Mayo Clinic Staff (2022) “Heart attack symptoms: Know what’s a medical emergency.” www.mayoclinic.org. Accessed May 18, 2022.
Taylor, M. G. (2019) “7 Warning Signs That You May Be at Risk of a Heart Attack.” www.menshealth.com. Accessed May 18, 2022.