Looking After Your Nuts and Bolts

Too many men die of ill health for a very simple reason – they don’t go to the doctor. Sound like you or someone you know?

Looking After Your Nuts and Bolts by Phil Gifford is a new book for Kiwi men, with all the information you need to keep yourself healthy.

This book doesn’t suggest a switch to silverbeet sandwiches, organic oat bran enemas, kale smoothies, or naked sweat lodge fasting. But read it and you will be able to look after your heart, discover ways to genuinely prolong your sex life, learn how to get the better of bowel cancer, and much more.

Do you know the early signs of a heart attack? Read this extract from the book to learn more…

“If your heart starts to flag, the warning signs can be very subtle. The movies’ version, the grabbing of the chest, the gasping, the eye rolling, the (if you’re Marlon Brando in The Godfather) crashing into the garden and scaring the crap out of your grandson, might happen, but it’s unlikely.

Sometimes the symptoms are so unremarkable it’s almost a case of attack by tedium.

‘More often than not,’ says Gerry Devlin, ‘you may just feel a bit of discomfort, or feel uncomfortable in the chest, jaw, or arm. ‘I try to use the word “discomfort” when I talk to medical students and patients, because the classic Hollywood tightness, really bad tightness where you feel your chest has been crushed, yes it happens, but it is less likely.

‘What I ask patients is, “Are you getting discomfort in your chest when you do things? When you’re under stress. Say, watching a rugby match.”  The All Blacks in 2015 at the World Cup, for example, came close a couple of times! So it can be emotional or physical stress.

‘If you notice when you are walking up a hill, or doing the lawns, that your chest feels a bit uncomfortable, your throat feels a bit uncomfortable, we would say don’t ignore that, that is something that you should go and talk to your health professional about.

‘A lot of people who have heart attacks often have those symptoms building up for a few weeks beforehand.’

You can check the excellent website, heartfoundation.org.nz, for more details on what to look for in case you’re starting to have a heart attack. But if you’re not too great on the world web net thing, here are the signs to look out for.

The discomfort Gerry Devlin talks about may come and go. It may be in one, or both, arms but is more likely to be in the left arm.

It can be in your neck, your jaw, your stomach, or your abdomen.

What does it actually feel like? It can be squeezing, pressing, tightness, feeling full, or actual pain.

You might also find yourself sweating, being faint or dizzy, feeling that you want to throw up, actually vomiting, or being short of breath.

‘The message for middle-aged blokes,’ says Gerry Devlin, ‘is if you’re getting discomfort in your chest, arm or throat when you are doing things, if you believe something is not quite right, and you are feeling things are harder for you to do, then don’t ignore it. Go and see a doctor.

‘The fact is statistics show that we never get to see 50% of people who have a heart attack until after it happens.’

Being an active, non-smoking, healthy eater remains the best armour to wear to ward off a heart attack. But even if you jog six days a week, and are so health-food conscious you feel a little nauseated just at the sight of a fried chicken ad on TV, there are some medical precautions that are worth taking.

Experts in the heart field recommend you start getting your heart checked by your doctor from the age of 45. You should get tested about 10 years younger if you’re Maori, because statistics show Maori men have a slightly higher risk of  heart problems.

If there’s a family history of heart disease, that should set off what Gerry Devlin calls ‘an amber warning light’ and lead you to having tests done earlier. If your dad died of a heart attack in his early 60s, beat the problem to the punch and get yourself checked out.

Extracted from Looking After Your Nuts and Bolts: Phil Gifford’s Kiwi Men’s Health Guide. Available now where all good books are sold. Click here for more info.