Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Importance of Men's Heart Health


“Men tend to have a stoic approach to their heart health risk,” says one physician, whom I had the privilege of having a conversation with. We were talking about how Filipino men take care of their own health. Sadly, they aren’t always looking after their best interest. Most of them wouldn’t even bother seeing their doctors for a checkup because they “feel absolutely normal” that they think they do not need to have a checkup at all.

There are a few things that make men more prone to heart issues. Based on the recent webinar I have attended entitled: Puso ni Daddy: Sinlakas Pa Ba ng Haligi?"  A Father's Day Special episode of their Usapang Puso sa Puso. recently organized by the Philippine Heart Association [PHA], sponsored by Corbridge. With guest expert doctors namely: Dr. Jorge Sison, dr. Benjamin Quito and Dr. Rhodette Arevalo. Based on what has been discussed during the show,  I have come up with my own list of reasons why heart-related health issues are most often the reason for men’s mortality rate. Check out the listicle I’ve made below:

Men tend to skip preventive checkups

Men tend to go to the doctor less often than most women does for annual checkups. This also means they’re less apt to get significant routine or physical exams for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar checkups, and other laboratory tests, which are key to gauging heart health. They’re also less likely to report symptoms like chest pain, breathlessness, and fatigue—even to the point of ignoring symptoms of a heart attack. For most Filipino men, as long as they don’t feel anything bad about their health, they feel okay even if most heart ailments are considered asymptomatic. Unfortunately, it is because of this reason why most heart diseases are diagnosed in a near-end stage when it should’ve been prevented early on if only they went to preventive checkups. 

They think they’re too young for a heart attack

The classic “guy with a heart attack” is older—but not necessarily that old. Men with a family history of early heart attack— a close male family member with a heart attack before age 55, or female family member before age 65—may be at higher risk for the same fate, even as early as their 30s and 40s. Overall, men develop coronary artery disease 10 years before women do. That means they tend to have heart attacks in their 60s—for women, it’s the 70s. 

Whatever your age, start doing what you can to manage your risk factors, like following a heart-healthy diet, getting exercise, practicing weight control and not smoking, as well as working with your health care provider on controlling high blood pressure or cholesterol.

The expert cardiologists from the PHA insisted that men should start having their blood workups and regular blood pressure monitor by the time they reach 25 to 30 years old. Nowadays, age is just a number. You can never really tell if someone has hypertension by just looking at them. With the number of high in sodium instant foods and chemically loaded meals we have been consuming now, the earlier it gets diagnosed, the better your heart health will be. Prevention is way better than cure. Cliche as it is but it is still true in this day and age.

They tend to self-medicate

I'm not saying that only men would self-medicate. Yeah, let's admit it. we're all guilty of this at some point in our lives. Women do this, too, of course—drown miseries in a bottle, say, or chain smoke, work excessively long hours or turn to nachos and potato chips by the bagful in front of the TV when feeling down. But guys sometimes do these things to mask depression, a physical condition that’s linked to heart disease, which men are less likely to report to the doctor.

There was also a myth discussed during the webinar regarding the use of Losartan as a preventive measure against Covid. The doctors vehemently denied this news. "There's no proof nor study connecting the use of Losartan as a preventive measure against Covid virus."

During the said PHA webinar, Ormoc Mayor and actor/sportsman Richard Gomez were asked what he does during his spare time, particularly during the lockdown and quarantine period, Gomez said that backyard planting had been his therapy to cope with the mental stress brought about by the pandemic. He also said that he takes pleasure in cooking for his family. It was his way to also bond over his only child, Juliana who enjoys his dishes. 

Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez shares his experience during the quarantine period

Mayor Gomez was fully aware of how stressful the pandemic is, and it may not also be good for our heart health to be under stress during these trying times. He shared a few things about how he manages to keep in shape despite all of these things we have all been experiencing. 

Mayor Gomez with daughter Juliana at their kitchen as he whipped up dishes for the family.

Believing You Can’t Do Anything About Health Problems Because it ‘Runs in the Family'

Many men adopt this fatalistic approach about their father’s, grandparents’ or other relatives’ history of heart disease. While it’s true this is one of the risk factors you can’t change—along with age and gender—a great deal can be done to reduce your own odds of a heart event through lifestyle changes and medications.

While it's perfectly fine to bring up the family history with your doctor, every individual needs to be assessed with further testing because diseases particularly heart-related aren't exactly a "one size fits all kind of thing." What works for someone may not necessarily work for the other. It's equally important to ask about prevention tactics that really work--but of course, as always, a schedule for checkups is a must. 

Check with doctors first prior to getting into any sport

The doctors reiterated that it is important to check up with your doctors prior to getting into a physically active sport. Why is this so? Because you never know if you're asymptomatic and you might have heart problems sans any symptoms. Just to be sure, you need to see your doctor first especially if you're not really an active person and you want to be active again in a particular sport. Also, if you're hypertensive, don't try riding rollercoasters anymore. It's best to be safe than feel sorry later. 

Know your number

"You have to know your number. Men who happen to have large tummies are more likely to have heart problems," says Dr. Jorge Sison, one of the panelists. "It is alarming that based on a recent study we have made, 4 out of 10 Filipinos have high blood or are hypertensive." 

Men are more prone to heart ailments than women

The earlier you see your doctor, the better. Do not wait until you're in your 40's because chances are, your heart health is no longer as healthy by that time if you don't take care of your heart early on. But if you see your cardiologist as early as your 20's, chances are you will have a better life later on. 

Learn more about your heart health by following the Philippine Heart Association's Facebook page and attend their regular webinars on heart disease prevention via Usapang Puso sa Puso, hosted by Dr. Luigi Segundo and Dr. Dopn Robespierre Reyes. You may also check out their website at

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