Top 5 Health Concerns for Men
Posted 12/14/2016 by UHBlog
Although men’s average life expectancy is lower than women’s by about five years, men seem to be a little healthier during their lifetimes. Or at least they believe they are, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey done in 2014.
The CDC found that 63.1 percent of men over the age of 18 considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health, compared to 61.5 percent of women who responded. Among men over age 18, 11.7 percent said they were in fair or poor health, compared to 12.2 percent of women.
Still, there are a number of conditions that worry men, says family medicine specialist Melvin Glover, MD. The top five health concerns Dr. Glover talks to his patients about are:
- Cardiovascular disease. This is a broad topic that includes heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and other conditions. In fact, says Dr. Glover, heart disease is the leading cause of death in American men, accounting for one in every four adult male deaths.
“Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no prior symptoms,” he says. “That makes it all the more important to see your doctor routinely – at least once a year – to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.”
During your exam, be sure to talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and any concerns you have, such as your weight, diet and use of tobacco and alcohol.
“In the absence of a family history of cardiovascular disease, men should start to have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels monitored no later than age 40,” Dr. Glover says. “Men with a family history of cardiovascular disease should start earlier.”
To help keep your heart healthier, Dr. Glover recommends eating a good, balanced diet, avoiding tobacco and getting plenty of exercise, such as walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Prostate cancer. It’s the most common form of non-skin cancer among American men, Dr. Glover says.
According to Dr. Glover, most men with prostate cancer will “die with it, rather than from it.” That’s because most cases are slow and non-aggressive. Men of advanced age might choose not to undergo aggressive treatments.
Prostate cancer screening recommendations have changed recently, he says, which means you might leave your doctor’s office without getting a digital rectal exam.
“The two tests for prostate cancer are the rectal exam and a blood test for the proper level of PSA, a substance produced by the prostate gland,” Dr. Glover says. “Both of those tests could suggest the possibility of cancer that isn’t there, and could lead to potentially unnecessary treatment that could cause other complications. The best thing to do is to discuss the pros and cons of prostate testing with your doctor.”
Difficulty urinating, frequent nighttime urination and blood in the urine or semen could be signs of cancer or a less severe prostate condition.
- Tobacco-related diseases. These are the leading preventable causes of cancer and cancer deaths in men, Dr. Glover says.
“People associate smoking with lung cancer, but tobacco is linked as a cause of at least 12 other types of cancer, including mouth cancer, colorectal cancer and bladder cancer,” he says. “Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase your risk of tobacco-related diseases by 20 to 30 percent.”
- Suicide and depression. More women than men attempt suicide, but men are almost four times more likely than women to die by suicide. One reason is that men are more likely to use deadlier means – such as firearms – when they set out to take their own lives.
“Men generally don’t like to talk about being depressed or suicidal because they see it as a sign of weakness,” Dr. Glover says. “Suicide is the seventh-leading cause of death among American men.”
Often a man’s spouse or partner will recognize signs of his depression before he does – or at least before he is ready to admit it.
“In some cases, a guy might be the life of the party, trying to mask his problem,” Dr. Glover says. “Other guys isolate themselves, or self-medicate with alcohol or narcotics.”
Depression can be treated in a variety of ways – including counseling and medications – depending on the cause and severity of the condition.
“A talk with your family doctor can be a good first step towards treatment,” he says.
- Erectile dysfunction. While not a life-threatening condition, for some men, it might seem that way.
According to Dr. Glover, erectile dysfunction is a common problem that is typically caused by one or more of the following:
Smoking and some prescription medications can also contribute to erectile dysfunction, he says.
- A vascular (circulatory) issue
- A nerve condition
- A hormonal imbalance
- A psychological or emotional problem
“Some causes are easily modifiable,” he says. “It helps to talk about any stress or emotional issues that could be leading to the problem. Exercise can help to improve your blood flow. If all of the modifiable solutions don’t work, medications like Viagra or Cialis tend to be effective.”
Melvin Glover, MD is a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Twinsburg Family Medicine. You can request an appointment with Dr. Glover or any doctor online.