In honor of National Men’s Health Week, we challenge men of all ages to do better in taking charge of their health. Why? Because men aren’t as diligent about managing their healthcare as women are. These statistics from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are alarming:
- Males are 24 percent less likely to have been seen by a healthcare professional within a year
- Males are 32 percent more likely to end up in the hospital with congestive heart failure
- Males are 24 percent more likely to wind up in the hospital due to pneumonia, an immunization-preventable illness
The good news is that there are steps men can and should take to reverse these trends and live healthier lives. Here, we’ll review a few of the top killers of men, and share pertinent screenings and prevention tips for each so you can get started on your journey to better health.
According to the Center For Disease Control, heart disease is the #1 cause of death for men (and women) nationwide. It’s no different in Nevada, where it’s also the leading cause of death. Perhaps even more eye opening is the fact that about 50 percent of the men who die suddenly from heart disease have no previous symptoms.
Through routine screenings, heart disease can be caught early, when simple measures like lifestyle changes and/or well-tolerated medicines can slow the progression. Common screenings include a blood pressure check and a fasting cholesterol test starting at age 20, and a blood glucose test starting at age 45.
Chances are, you’ve heard it all before—eat a diet low in fat and red meats, high in veggies and whole grains; exercise; maintain a healthy weight; don’t smoke; and limit alcohol consumption. Now, it’s time to take these pieces of advice to heart.
With all types combined, cancer is the number two killer in the U.S. and Nevada. Obviously, Sierra Nevada Cancer Center has a profound interest in this particular disease. The two most prevalent cancers in men are prostate cancer and lung cancer.
For prostate cancer, screenings include a digital rectal exam by your primary care physician along with a simple PSA blood test. Doing these screening regularly will help catch prostate cancer early, at its most treatable stage. If you are at risk of lung cancer (for which smoking and heredity are two factors), the CDC recommends low-dose computed tomography, or CT scan, for screening.
There’s a lot of information available on ways to lower your risk of getting prostate cancer. Diet and exercise are two of the most important preventative measures. As for lung cancer, the most important changes you can make are to stop smoking and limit your exposure to second hand smoke.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in Nevada (not including accident-related deaths). It’s also the number one cause of disability nationwide. According to the American Stroke Association, 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
Basic screenings include blood pressure monitoring, glucose screening and a fasting cholesterol check. Your healthcare provider will also look at your body mass index (BMI) and other risk factors such as heredity, diet and history of smoking.
The tips for preventing stroke in the first place look a lot like those for preventing heart disease and cancer: eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in saturated fats; exercise on a regular basis; keep your weight at a healthy level; don’t smoke; and manage high blood pressure and diabetes.
Small Changes, Big Impact
Given that men can reduce their risk of not one, but three potentially deadly diseases doing largely the same lifestyle adjustments, there’s no time like National Men’s Health Week to get started. If you’re ready to get pro-active about your healthcare, we encourage you to see your doctor. If you do receive a cancer diagnosis, contact Sierra Nevada Cancer Center and Dr. Perez. We will help guide you through your treatment and recovery.