Men's Health Week 2020: Looking After Your Heart Health
Unless there's a problem with it, we don't often think about our hearts, they just pump away inside of us and help keep us alive, much like our lungs or any other vital organ.
But it's essential that at least once or twice a year we stop and think about our hearts and book a check-up with our GP, even more so if there is a family history of heart issues.
PA Hospital Cardiologist Dr Arnold Ng recommends all men see their doctor for a heart check-up annually. Even though they may feel fit as a fiddle, there may be an underlying issue developing which may need to be addressed.
"Even though you may feel well and do not experience any chest discomfort or breathlessness, you may have underlying high cholesterol, diabetes, or blood pressure which can cause damage to your heart, blood vessels, and the rest of the body," he said.
"Diagnosing these problems is easy, it's just a blood test to check your blood cholesterol and sugar levels, and blood pressure.
"If there is a problem, treatment will help reduce the long-term risks of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure."
Dr Arnold Ng
Dr Ng's key advice for men who want to maintain a healthy heart is to engage in healthy habits such as diet and exercise to help reduce the risk of heart issues occurring.
"Primary prevention means that if we detect problems such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, we can start treating those conditions to keep you well and prevent long complications such as heart attacks or strokes," he said.
"By the time patients have had a heart attack or stroke, the damage is done, and we cannot reverse the blood vessel blockages. All we can do is try to slow the progression of disease.
"The earlier we identify these issues, the longer we can keep patients healthy."
Dr Ng said it's also important to understand that a more holistic health management plan including lifestyle modifications should be considered.
"Once patients are on treatment and are clinically stable, they still need regular check-ups with their GP. That is because things change over time," he said.
"It's not just about taking medications, it's also about lifestyle changes.
"For example, if you're on medications for high blood pressure, but you start regularly exercising and reduce your salt, your blood pressure will naturally go down.
"However, if we're still giving you the same medications, your blood pressure could get too low and start causing light-headedness. Thus, we may end up over-treating you and will have to reduce your medication dosages."
Heart attacks remain the number one cause of death in Australia for both men and women.
"If you start getting symptoms such as chest discomfort or pain, always go get it checked with your GP especially if it is becoming more frequent or severe," Dr Ng said.