Jamaica | Mar 10, 2023

Risk factors of men developing heart disease

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Heart disease is a common health condition that affects many people globally. Men are generally more at risk of developing the health condition 10 years earlier compared to their female counterparts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines heart disease as a group of disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels such as cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other related illnesses.

The poor health-seeking behaviour of men coupled with their lifestyle choices is a driving force for high incidences of heart-related deaths among men.

A 2018 Jamaica Lifestyle Survey conducted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Ministry of Health were more engaged with health services compared to their male counterparts. Likewise, both male and female participants revealed that the health-seeking behaviour of men was affected by ‘macho culture’.

Dr Marilyn Lawrence- Wright, consultant cardiologist at the Heart Foundation and Head of the Cardiology Unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Dr Marilyn Lawrence-Wright, consultant cardiologist at the Heart Foundation and Head of the Cardiology Unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies told Our Today that men generally seek medical care after they have started to experience symptoms of heart disease.

“We find that men don’t generally come in for screenings. I don’t think that there are many general screenings for heart risk factors for men as much as women but, what I do find is that I think when they start to see symptoms they do come in,” she noted.

The cardiologist explained that there are instances where a wife or mother may notice changes in a male and encourage them to visit a physician to have checks done.

Risk factors

A study conducted by the UWI titled an Update on the Burden of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Jamaica noted that the modifiable risk factors of heart disease include hypertension, pre-hypertension, diabetes mellitus, impaired fasting glucose, tobacco smoking, sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition.

While the non-modifiable risk factors included sex, age and genetic predisposition.

The study revealed that a majority of modifiable risk factors were more prevalent in women except for tobacco use and impaired fasting glucose which is higher in men.

Non-smokers who breathe secondhand smoke are also at risk of developing heart disease between 25-35 per cent.

Dr Lawrence-Wright noted that there is also existing data that suggest erectile dysfunction is a risk factor for heart disease.

“The idea is that the blood vessels in the penis are a vascular structure similar to the blood vessels in the heart, because they are smaller they tend to get blocked earlier than the ones in the heart. So when you have those blockages in the blood vessels in the penis it causes erectile dysfunction which is a possible marker for blockages in the coronary artery later,” she said.

An article published by John Hopkins Medicine revealed that men in their 40s who have erection problems run an 80 per cent risk of developing a heart problem within 10 years.

Stress and sleeping disorder are also common risk factors for heart disease. According to John Hopkins Medicine, stress, anger and anxiety raise levels of blood pressure and stress hormones, and they can restrict blood flow to the heart. 

Based on research the risk of developing a heart attack after an anger outburst is three times higher.

Stress can also affect sleeping patterns for many individuals, not only men. Unhealthy sleeping patterns place individuals at a greater risk of having higher stress levels which can cause damage to the heart.


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