7 Health Conditions That Most Commonly Affect Men
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are 24 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year. Men’s Health Month each November is recognized as a wake-up call for men to get smart about their health.
Campaigns like “Novembeard” also help raise awareness around the conditions that affect men most, along with preventive measures that can be taken.
The risk for the following health conditions varies based on age, race, health history and lifestyle choices, among other factors:
- Cancer: One in two males are at risk of developing some form of cancer in their lifetime and one in four are at risk of dying as a result. Colorectal, lung and prostate are a few of the leading cancers affecting men in the U.S.
- Depression, Anxiety and Suicide: The suicide rate among American men is about four times higher than women. The National Institute of Mental Health shares that males tend to disregard symptoms of poor mental health and therefore do not receive the treatment necessary.
- Heart Disease: Cardiac events (heart attack/acute coronary syndrome, stroke, coronary artery disease, etc.) are the leading killer of men in the United States and the cause of one in four deaths.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes and more than a quarter aren’t aware. The likelihood of being diagnosed increases for African American and Hispanic men, older individuals and those who are overweight/obese.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Also referred to as BPH, this event involves an enlarged prostate. As men age, their prostates go through two growth periods: the first in puberty and the second near age 25. It continues to grow and half of all men between ages 51 and 60 have BPH. It can decrease the urine stream, weaken the bladder and cause an excessive need to urinate frequently.
- Dyslipidemia: When lipid (fat) levels in the bloodstream become too high or low, dyslipidemia, a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease, occurs. The risk is most apparent for those who have high cholesterol, diabetes and/or obesity.
- Gout: This is a complex form of arthritis, historically associated with diets rich in meats and sweets. It causes severe pain, redness and tenderness when crystals form in the big toe and other joints. An attack of gout can occur suddenly, leaving any body part feeling severely weakened.
Methods of Prevention
- Don’t Smoke. Cigarette smoking accounts for one out of every five deaths and is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Not only does it lead to lung cancer and heart disease, it contributes to the severity of nearly every illness.
- Get Active, Eat healthy. Proper diet and exercise improves mental and physical health while lowering the risk for chronic illness. Men should aim for three to four moderate workouts a week and between five and seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Know Your History. Learning the medical history of family members is key in managing the risk of chronic illness and helps determine which health assessments should be top of mind.
- Visit the Doctor. According to the American Heart Association, men are likely to put off routine checkups and delay seeing a health care provider. This may be due to a variety of reasons, including lack of time, a sense of invincibility and a fear of examinations. Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider makes it easier to assess the risk of health issues, manage existing conditions and detect unidentified symptoms.
About the Author: Dr. S. George Kipa, MD, is a deputy chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Photo Credit: Rachel Strum