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Cardiovascular disease in men: An overview for primary care nurses

David Warriner explains risk factors, physiological signs, and why heart disease tends to affect men younger

Heart disease is the second most common cause of death in middle-aged men1 and occurs seven to 10 years earlier than in women.2 Heart diseases common in this age group include coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, valvular heart disease, myocardial and pericardial disease. In this article we will discuss such diseases in the context of this population, including risk factors, signs and symptoms to be wary of and why these men are particularly at risk.

Gender differences
Risk factors for heart disease include smoking tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle and being overweight or obese. Men are more likely to be smokers (20% men versus 17% women)3, problem drinkers (9% men versus 5% women)4, sedentary (40% men versus 35% of women)5 and be overweight/obese (65% men versus 58% women),6 all of which increase their risk of heart disease.

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