Men: Take Control of Heart Health

Each year, heart disease is at the top of the list of the country's most serious health problems. In fact, statistics show that cardiovascular disease is America's leading health problem, and the leading cause of death for men.

The Barnabas Health Heart Centers share that it is possible for men to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by eliminating the risk factors they can control. This includes eliminating tobacco products, following a healthy diet, participating in an appropriate exercise program, maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress. In fact, research has shown that positive lifestyle modifications are at least as important in managing cardiac and vascular disease as are medications and medical interventions and procedures.

Eliminate tobacco products

All tobacco products are included as risk factors for chronic illness, not just cigarettes. As soon as you stop using them, your body begins to heal itself from the devastating effects of tobacco.

Adhere to a heart-healthy diet

One aspect of maintaining a healthy heart includes eating a heart-friendly diet, including appropriate levels of the following:

  • Calories
  • Cholesterol
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Sodium

In addition to helping to manage stroke and heart attack risk factors, maintaining a heart-healthy, balanced diet helps prevent or manage other chronic diseases, helps lose weight and boost energy, and promotes overall good health.

To find more information about dietary guidelines and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your age, sex, and physical activity level, visit, but please note that the My Plate plan is designed for people over the age of 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.

Get moving

One vital step toward reducing your chances of experiencing heart disease is making the time to exercise. Today, with our fast-paced society, people must schedule time to exercise. Choose an activity that you enjoy doing, than talk with your health care provider about a plan that meets your individual capabilities and needs. And, keep in mind that much of the benefit from exercise comes at a low level of exertion.

An exercise program will help in the management of almost all stroke and heart attack risk factors. Try to include moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 40 minutes each day for at least 3 to 4 days per week. Regular physical activity will help promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight. Always consult your health care provider regarding your healthy diet and exercise requirements.

Manage your weight

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, occurs more often in obese people. Coronary artery disease is also more common because fatty deposits build up in arteries that supply the heart.

If you are overweight or obese, your health care provider can work with you to lose weight and lower your body mass index (BMI) to a normal or near-normal level. Making diet changes and increasing physical activity can help.

Eliminate as much stress as possible

Emotional stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased susceptibility to substance abuse and illness, less resistance to disease, and depression. Tips to reduce or manage the stress in your life include:

  • Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. A nutritious, well-balanced diet and exercise can keep your body fit and able to resist disease. Exercise also is an excellent way to elevate your mood.
  • Talk about your stressful situations with someone you trust. Sometimes, just talking about your problems and concerns can help you put them into perspective and give you insights into ways to deal with them.
  • Stay organized to help manage your time more efficiently.
  • Remember, no one can do it all alone, so ask for help.
  • Use relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body.

In addition to the strategies above, the Barnabas Health Heart Centers recommend men have an annual physical and “know their numbers,” such as blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and blood sugar. For a referral to an RWJBarnabas Health primary care physician or cardiologist, please call 888-724-7123 or visit