Husband, father, grandpa, brother… for each of us there is probably at least one special guy in our lives. June is Men’s Health month, and to help keep men healthy, it pays to know – and pay attention – to the major risk factors most prevalent for men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the list of major threats
to men’s health is short, and a few positive lifestyle choices can go a long way toward
helping men live longer, healthier lives. Making even one or two lifestyle changes – such
as avoiding tobacco and eating a healthy diet – can reduce the risk of developing several
The number one threat to men’s health is heart disease, followed by cancer, mo- tor vehicle accidents, chronic lung conditions, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and suicide. Not all risk factors can be controlled, but there are several ways to minimize potential health threats.
1. Heart Disease
Men can reduce their risk of heart disease in several ways:
- Don’t smoke, vape, or use other tobacco products, and minimize your exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Eat a healthy diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high fiber foods and lean
protein such as fish.
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fat and salt.
- Work with your doctor to keep chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes under control.
- Choose a sport or other physical activity that you enjoy, and participate in it on a regular basis.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Find ways to reduce stress.
Common cancers that affect men are lung, skin, prostate and colon-rectum cancers. The CDC
advises men to take many of the same preventive measures they should take to reduce their
risk of heart disease: avoid smoking and second-hand smoke, lose excess pounds, stay physically active, eat a healthy diet and limit alcohol consumption. The CDC also recommends that men protect themselves from the sun when they are outside and see their doctor for routine cancer screenings.
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of fatalities among men. Many of these
accidents are preventable. To reduce your risk of being injured or killed, the CDC advises
that you wear a seat belt, obey the speed limit, don’t drive under the influence of
alcohol or other drugs and avoid getting behind the wheel when you are not alert.
4. Chronic lung conditions
Chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other lung conditions can be debilitating. To reduce your
risk of developing these conditions, avoid smoking and minimize your exposure to chemicals and other pollutants. Minimize respiratory infections by washing your hands frequently, getting an annual flu vaccination and talking to your doctor about whether you need to be vaccinated
The CDC advises men to make healthy lifestyle choices in an effort to reduce their risk of
stroke. Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, live a physically
active life, avoid smoking and using other tobacco products, limit alcohol consumption
and take steps to control chronic medical conditions including high blood pressure.
6. Type 2 diabetes
The most common kind of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes. It affects the body’s use of blood
sugar and can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems and other serious conditions if
not well controlled. Lifestyle choices are extremely important in preventing this disease. As with many other health conditions, you should eat a healthy diet, get sufficient exercise
and maintain a healthy weight.
Men often view depression as a sign of weakness, but depression is a major risk factor
for suicide in men as well as women. Fortunately, depression is highly treatable. If
you feel sad or lose inter- est in normal activities for an extended period of time, see your doctor. If you are thinking about suicide, get help! Go to your nearest emergency room or call 911. For information about the outpatient services available at Peninsula for treatment of depression and other conditions visit PeninsulaBehavioralHealth.org.
According to Jeff Boruff, MD, “The aver-age man seems to pay less attention to overall health than the average woman. Men have many of the same diseases as women, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension, but also have unique issues like prostate cancer
and enlargement and low testosterone levels. Schedule a regular checkup that can pick up disease early, when it is easiest to treat. Start protecting your health!”
Four Heart-Related Conditions You Can Prevent
Here’s a heart-stuttering statistic: According to the CDC, about 655,000 people die
of heart disease in the United States every year — that’s one in every four deaths.
Many of those deaths could be prevented. How? Start with being better informed
about what it takes to keep your heart healthy. Below are four common heart-related
conditions and tips on preventing them.
High blood pressure Seven of 10 people who suffer their first heart attack have high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, the condition occurs when the force of blood on your artery walls is too high for a long period of time. Why the concern? High blood pressure doesn’t cause any symptoms, but it can still seriously damage the body. In particular, it can raise your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke.
High cholesterol Your body normally produces a certain level of cholesterol, a fat-like substance found in the blood. Cholesterol levels can become too high, though, and lead to health problems. One major reason: eating foods with lots of saturated fats and cholesterol. Being overweight
is another leading cause. Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol has no symptoms. It also
contributes to your risk for CAD.
Coronary artery disease One of the most common types of heart disease, CAD develops when the arteries that supply heart muscle with blood gradually become filled with plaque, a substance made of cholesterol, calcium and fat. As this plaque coats the artery walls it hard- ens, narrowing the arteries in a process called atherosclerosis. If the plaque blocks blood flow to the heart, it can cause a heart attack
Peripheral artery disease
Like CAD, peripheral artery disease (PAD) develops because of the build- up of plaque on
the artery walls. But PAD affects arteries elsewhere in the body – most often those in the legs. Many people with PAD have no symptoms, but some people may feel pain or numbness in the legs when walking or doing other physical activity.
Preventing heart-related conditions
Some risk factors are unpreventable, such as family history, but there are several ways to
lower other risks with healthy lifestyle choices. Taking steps to prevent even one heart condition, such as high blood pressure, can also help protect your heart from other related conditions. Start with the following:
- Limit foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol and cut back on salt in your diet. These
two steps will help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Keep your body moving. Regular physical activity, along with diet, could prevent
a quarter of heart-related deaths in the U.S. It also helps you maintain a healthy
- Know your numbers. Talk with your doctor about your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You should have these numbers checked regularly starting at age 20. Your blood pressure should be below 120/80. In general, your cholesterol level should be around 200 mg/dL or lower. HDL (“good”) cholesterol should be greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL, and LDL(“bad”) cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles your risk for CAD and is a key contributor to high blood pressure.