Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease in Men

Heart disease is one of the leading health risks facing men today. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than one in three adult men has heart disease, and men comprise more than 48 percent of the deaths that occur due to heart conditions.\

Men have high levels of risk factors for heart disease. In 2010, only a quarter of men met federal guidelines for physical activity, and a large majority were overweight or obese. More than 20 percent of men smoke, which can cause a narrowing of blood vessels, a precursor to certain types of heart disease.

Heart disease is an umbrella term that includes heart failure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, angina, and host of heart-related infections, irregularities, and birth defects. Although it may seem that something so serious should have warning signs, you may be developing heart disease without knowing it as you go about your daily life.

Early Signs of Heart Disease

The first sign of heart disease is often a heart attack or other serious event, but there are a few cardinal signs to be aware of that can help recognize problems before they come to a head. In the early stages, symptoms may come and go and may seem like mere annoyances. For example, you may have:

  • difficulty catching your breath after moderate physical exertion, like walking up a flight of stairs
  • a sense of discomfort or squeezing in your chest that last for 30 minutes to a few hours
  • unexplained pain in your upper torso, neck, and jaw

Heart disease that involves your blood vessels is often signaled by:

  • chest pain (angina)
  • shortness of breath
  • changes in your extremities, such as pain, tingling, numbness, coldness, and weakness

These can be signs that your blood vessels have narrowed. This narrowing, which can be caused by plaque build-up, makes it more difficult for your heart to pump and circulate oxygenated blood efficiently through your body.

While not technically early symptoms, a cluster of risk factors also signal impending heart disease. For example, if you’re a diabetic and are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your risk for heart disease significantly increases.