According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to die from eight out of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. than women. By spreading awareness of the risks, symptoms and methods of prevention associated with these health problems, men can take control of their health.
Leading Health Threats
The risk for different health conditions varies based on age, race, health history and lifestyle choices, among other factors. Everyone should have a discussion with their primary care physician to gain professional insight and further evaluate the risk for any of the following:
• Cancer: Colorectal, lung and prostate cancer are a few of the leading illnesses that affect men in the U.S. The American Cancer Society reports that 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. Colonoscopy starting at age 50 till age 75 is recommended to screen for colorectal cancer. The best approach for prostate cancer screening is highly individualized and should be based on consultation your primary care doctor. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer may receive more benefit from screening. Smokers (>30 pack years) should ask their doctors about low dose computerized tomography to screen for lung cancer between ages 55 and 80.
• Depression/Anxiety: A variety of mental health disorders affect men, but depression/anxiety regularly goes untreated. The National Institute of Mental Health shares that males often do not seek the necessary treatment due to a failure to notice symptoms or, in some cases, because they’ve chosen to ignore symptoms. The risk of depression/anxiety and other mental health disorders can be estimated through online questionnaires/screenings and should be evaluated by a doctor during routine health check-ups.
• Heart Disease: As the leading killer of men in the United States, cardiovascular diseases are the cause of one in four deaths. The risk of cardiac events (heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, etc.) is heightened for those who are overweight, smoke and have high cholesterol or blood pressure. Testing designed to identify heart-related conditions include:
o Blood glucose test
o Blood pressure test
o Body mass index (BMI)
o Cholesterol test (fasting lipoprotein profile)
o Lifestyle risk assessment
(AHA Risk Calculator)
• Type 2 Diabetes: There are many controllable risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes including diet, exercise and stress management. The likelihood of being diagnosed with these conditions increases for African American and Hispanic men, older individuals and those who are overweight/obese. A few tools to detect the risk of Type 2 diabetes include:
o Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test
o Glycosylated Hemoglobin (A1c test)
o Random Blood glucose test
Signs and Symptoms
While the symptoms for every health condition vary, it’s important to keep in mind those most commonly seen in males. If any of the following symptoms are experienced on a regular basis, consider reaching out to a doctor or health specialist:
• Bloody urine/stool
• Chest discomfort
• Cold sweats
• Dizziness upon standing
• Noticeable weight loss
• Numbness in limbs
• Rectal bleeding
• Shortness of breath
• Speech difficulty
• Vision loss
Dr. S. George Kipa, MD, is a deputy chief medical officer and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provider. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.