Gentlemen, do you take better care of your yard and car than you do your body… if so, you aren’t alone. Statistics from the National Men’s Health Network show that there is an increasing change in mortality for men. We’ve known for some time that women live longer than men, but the gap is increasing. Throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s the life expectancy for men has dropped in comparison with that of women. Additionally, the mortality rate is higher for men than women in every age category. A lack of health education for men along with unhealthy lifestyles has contributed to the steady deterioration in the well-being of American men.
There are a number of risk factors that men should discuss with their primary health care providers.
1. Heart health – heart disease comes in many forms. The American Heart Association states that more than one in three men have some form of cardiovascular disease. In addition, high blood pressure is common in males under 45. High blood pressure can lead to strokes and kidney damage. Your doctor can identify your risks for heart and cardiovascular disease and advise you about lifestyle changes or treatment.
2. Chronic lung condition and other respiratory disorders - chronic cough from smoking or environmental pollutants over time can lead to serious conditions like lung cancer, emphysema or COPD. If you have a chronic cough, please discuss it with your doctor.
3. Alcohol – Men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women do. Alcohol also increases the risk of accidents, suicide, depression, cancer in the gastrointestinal tract, testicular hormone production and sexual function.
4. Influenza and pneumonia – these are both significant health risks for men, presumably because of compromised immune systems due to COPD, diabetes, congestive heart failure and cancer. Men are about 25 percent more likely to die from these diseases than women according to the American Lung Association. In the COVID environment today, this statistic becomes even more significant.
5. Obesity – a BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates overweight; BMI over 30 indicates obesity. (You can find a BMI calculator at aarp.org) Some really significant health problems come with obesity such as: sleep apnea leading to strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and early death. Obesity affects about 75% of men 40 years and older in our country. This is certainly a risk factor over which men can take control.
6. Diabetes – Men are almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women possibly because of fat distribution: obese men tend to carry their extra fat in the abdominal area, while women carry theirs in the legs and hips. In addition, certain lifestyle choices seem to be more prevalent in men such as having higher sugar intake, eating less fruit and vegetables and more meat, having increased alcohol, and smoking.
The above are only some of the risk factors which men should discuss with a physician. Gentlemen you have many responsibilities and are so important to your families and community. Please don’t ignore the importance of caring for your own health. Talk to your health care provider this month.