Despite the overwhelming number of potential health problems men face, and the fact that many of those problems could be minimized or avoided completely with preventive care, too many men pay too little attention to their health. “Men tend to put their health last,” says Dr. Andrew Bradberry, family medicine doctor with Imperial Health. “Most men think that as long as they’re able to live up to their daily responsibilities, then they’re healthy.”
According to a recent study, out of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer’s disease, which many men don’t live long enough to develop.
Here are the top 6 health threats that men should be aware of:
1. Cardiovascular Disease – The Leading Men’s Health Threat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for men in the United States. Men’s arteries tend to develop atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) earlier than women causing cholesterol plaques to gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If the plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot can form, blocking blood flow which can result in a heart attack or stroke.
“Cardiovascular disease and stroke are preventable,” says Dr. Bradberry. By implementing small changes in your lifestyle, you can significantly decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Know your cholesterol numbers
- Maintain and control your blood pressure
- Increase your physical activity (at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week)
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Quit smoking (if applicable)
2. Lung Disease – Still a Health Threat to Men
Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer and accounts for roughly 90 percent of lung cancer cases diagnosed each year. “While exposure to occupational hazards like asbestos increases your risk, smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer,” says Dr. Bradberry.
Dr. Bradberry recommends that anyone – men especially – who has smoked more than 30 years, talk to a physician about having a low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer.
“While quitting smoking is very challenging, it’s the most effective preventive measure any man can take to reduce their risk of developing lung cancer. There are several new tools available to help men quit. Talk to your doctor about your options.“
3. Prostate Cancer – A Leading Cancer for Men
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. It is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer. Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer in the U.S. this year alone.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland behind the penis that secretes fluids and is important for ejaculation and tends to become prone to problems as men age. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, but only one in 35 will die from it. “Many prostate cancers are slow-growing and are unlikely to spread,” says Dr. Bradberry. “Screening for prostate cancer is important and should be done annually for men over the age of 50.”
4. Depression and Suicide – Men Are at Risk
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) statistics show that more than 6 million men suffer from depression each year. “Instead of showing sadness or crying, men get angry or aggressive and are far more unlikely to seek help for depression,” says Dr. Bradberry. When depression goes untreated, the results can be tragic.
Men are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, which attributes to part of the blame that depression goes undiagnosed in men. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:
- Call 911
- Stay with the person until help arrives
- Remove any objects or items that may cause harm (guns, knives or medications)
- Listen, don’t judge, argue threaten or yell
If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide preventive hotline (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255).
5. Diabetes – The Silent Health Threat for Men
According to John Hopkins Medicine, diabetes affects 13 million U.S. men, compared to 12.6 million U.S. women. Diabetes usually begins silently, without symptoms. Over time, blood sugars elevate, eventually spilling into urine which results in frequent urination and thirst which garners enough attention for men to see a doctor.
“Excess glucose acts as a slow poison on blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. If left untreated, diabetes can wreak havoc on your body which could lead to nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke, and even vision problems or blindness,” says Dr. Bradberry.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that men “get out, get active, and get informed” and the best way to control diabetes is to eat healthy and exercise.
6. Erectile Dysfunction – A Common Health Problem in Men
Two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39% of 40-year-old men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction. Some recent research indicates that erectile dysfunction may be linked to cardiovascular disease.
“It may seem uncomfortable to visit with a physician about erectile dysfunction, but there are effective treatments available. Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of an underlying health problem, such as cardiovascular disease, so it’s imperative to seek the advice of a qualified physician,” Dr. Bradberry said.
Dr. Bradberry stresses the most important step a man who has been ignoring his health can take is to see a doctor for a complete exam and routine tests, based on their age.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bradberry, call 337-433-1212.