Men, let's face it we're not the best listeners especially when listening to our heart. Each year heart disease kills a quarter of America's male population. A number we could easily cut if we paid more attention to what our bodies are saying.
"Men can present with typical crushing chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, but it can also present with atypical symptoms just some subtle chest pressure, perhaps even lightheadedness, dizziness, easy fatigability." Said Dr. Jeff Anderson, an ER Physician at the Avera Heart Hospital.
More often than not, those warning signs will either be downplayed or flat out ignored by most men.
"Men are stubborn, macho! They think they can take the pain and often will delay seeking care because of that." Said Dr. Anderson.
But that little bit of pride can actually cause you more pain and do more damage down the road.
"Men will modify their behavior because of the chest pain or the shortness of breath that they're having and it takes less and less exertion for them to develop symptoms but they just modified their behavior and kind of delay seeking care in that way." Said Dr. Anderson.
Identifying symptoms isn't always a crystal clear process. Sometimes men think it's acid reflux or some other problem. Identifying a heart attack or heart complication is also a challenge for the doctors in the ER, so it's best to come in and let the experts figure it out.
"For a person trying to sort that out at home and delay seeking care it just doesn't make any sense we'd rather see them sooner than later." Said Dr. Anderson.
But that doesn't mean jump in the car and drive yourself to the hospital.
"It's very important for anyone that's experiencing chest pain to call 911, get EMS involved early, we can start treatment early from their home then." Said Dr. Anderson.
Like any disease there are ways to lower your heart disease risk factors. Whether that means a few extra minutes on the treadmill, taking it easier when you're at the bar, or doing your best to keep from lighting up that cigarette, You only have one heart so you best do all you can to keep it pumping.
"Diet, exercise, medication. There are a lot of options out there to try to improve those modifiable risk factors to live longer, healthier, happier." Said Dr. Anderson.
Every person is different and can have different symptoms but the more you're aware of your heart health the more prepared you will be if a heart attack should strike. For more information about heart disease in both men and women just call 877-AT-AVERA.