Skip to Content
July 15, 2019


ThedaCare Cardiologist Helps Men Understand Risk Factors

July 15, 2019


ThedaCare Cardiologist Helps Men Understand Risk Factors

APPLETON, Wis. – You’ve heard it before, from your doctor, family or others who care about you: Heart disease is the most common cause of death for both men and women. If you haven’t talked to your doctor about your risk profile, now is the time.

If you do have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems, take heart. There’s plenty you can do to lower your risk and help keep your heart healthy now and for years to come.

“I find that some men take a fatalistic attitude toward heart disease, especially if they have a family history. The good news is, the biggest risk factors for heart disease are controllable,” said Abdelkader Almanfi, MD, Director of the Structural Heart Program with ThedaCare Cardiovascular Care. “Not only can you possibly save your own life by taking care of your heart, you’ll probably find that you feel better and have more energy to do the things you want to do.”

Here are some suggestions from Dr. Almanfi:

1.  Eat healthy foods in the right amount. So you love meat and potatoes? Fine. Choose lean meat and watch your serving size. A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards, and you only need two a day. Make steak, burgers and fried foods an occasional treat, not a daily habit. And learn to love fruits and vegetables. Try new ones and find your favorites.

2.  Know your fats. Just like there’s “good” cholesterol (LDL) and “bad” cholesterol (HDL), there are “good” fats and “bad fats.” Bacon, red meat, butter and ice cream. These foods contain saturated (“bad”) fat, which can clog arteries and harm your heart. Trans fat (“bad”) is found in partially hydrogenated oils, and you’ll have to check the ingredients list on foods to avoid those. Unsaturated (“good”) fats can actually raise your good cholesterol and benefit your heart. Foods like walnuts, almonds, olive oil, canola oil and avocadoes contain unsaturated fats. Just watch your serving sizes and calorie count. Being overweight puts an additional strain on your heart.

3.  Don’t use tobacco. Smoking is a leading contributor to heart disease and many other health problems. Vaping also increases your risk. Quitting now can help prevent and even reverse damage. Most states have a smoking cessation program, such as Wisconsin’s 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) quit line. Your doctor can also help you with prescription products to make quitting easier.

4.  Get the right kind of exercise. Weight training may be beneficial; it should not be the entire focus. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of regular, aerobic exercise on most days. Walking, running, biking, dancing and most sports count as aerobic exercise. Staying active helps keep your heart strong and healthy.

5.  Don’t be a “bottler” or a “venter.” Men aren’t famous for talking about their feelings, and we know uncontrolled stress is a risk factor for heart disease and other health problems. Burying your feelings is bad for your heart. Remember, ranting and raving aren’t good for your health or your relationships. Instead, find healthy ways to cope with stress. Don’t be afraid to talk it out with a trusted friend or a counselor. And if you’re having trouble controlling your stress, talk to your doctor.

“Drinking, smoking and drug abuse may make your feel better in the short term, but they take a serious toll on your health,” said Dr. Almanfi. “It’s not weak to talk about what’s bothering you or to reach out for help if you need it. It’s actually a sign of strength, and it can help keep stress from harming your heart and your quality of life. By finding healthy ways of coping, eating and living, you can make a huge difference in your heart health and set a good example for the people you care about.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.