- - Friday, June 17, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION

More boys than girls are born every year in the U.S. And, the facts are—from the young to the old—females are healthier than males. Men lead women in the 15 top causes of death except for Alzheimer’s disease which many experts attribute to the fact that men die almost 6 years earlier than women, on average.

For the past several weeks I have been underscoring and spotlighting these facts to improve understanding as we commit to making a healthy difference. And vital to these understandings is recognizing that many of the major health risks that our boys and men face today can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis. It is not just a man’s issue and we all need to take an active role.

In Part 1 and Part 2, we reviewed the importance of routine exams and screenings, along with reducing and managing stress, depression and alcohol use, while improving connectedness. We discussed how our cultural male code has impacted men’s health; the uniqueness of men’s view of health vs. women; as well as the compelling statistics we need to keep men’s health at the forefront of research and awareness, at home and nationally.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Guy’s Health (Part 3 of 3)

Type 2 Diabetes During the past 15 years, the incidence of Type 2 diabetes in men has increased at an astonishing rate. While the reasons for this are not completely understood, what we do know is that making healthy food choices, staying at a healthy weight, moving more every day, and taking medications as prescribed even when you feel you are doing fine, make all the difference in the world.

Uncontrolled diabetes has devastating consequences— blindness, stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve injury. The good news is that when properly managed, these complications, as well as hospital admissions, can be minimized and diabetics can live longer and healthier lives.

Get ZZZ’s and around 30 years old Check Testosterone Levels Good sleep is vital. Not only does it improve our mood, the ability to concentrate, and be our best the following day, it is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. However, sleep disturbances affect nearly 90 million American adults! And the cause of insomnia in men often varies significantly from the causes of insomnia in women.

Low levels of testosterone—which are associated with male menopause, or andropause—can contribute to sleep apnea in men. Sleep apnea describes the interruption of or difficulty breathing during sleep. It manifests as loud snoring or complete cessation of breathing and resultant awakenings of the person with sleep apnea and, too, those who sleep next to them. If you snore, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss ways in which you can achieve a “sound” sleep.

Additionally, getting a good night of sleep often requires managing chronic physical and mental illnesses such as heart and lung disease, chronic pain issues, anxiety, and depression as well as improving our sleep hygiene—the routines and rituals we undergo before falling asleep. Make sure to avoid stimulants such as coffee later in the day, turn down the lights to allow the sleep hormone melanin to rise, and engage in relaxing activities. Again, if sleep problems persist despite these efforts, speak to your healthcare provider.

Coronary artery disease
Half of all men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms…half. Knowing your risk factors—high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol levels, diabetes mellitus, a family history of premature heart disease, and smoking—allows for risk assessment and early screening. It can save lives.

Coronary artery disease is when cholesterol-laden plaques build up inside heart vessel walls and impedes blood flow and oxygen-delivery to the heart. Over time, chronic oxygen-deprivation can impair the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood. And, too, if a plaque ruptures, due to the shearing stress of blood flow, complete occlusion can happen. Cell death, or myocardial infarction (MI), occurs within a matter of minutes.

Your healthcare provider may order an electrocardiogram to establish a baseline and/or screen for heart disease. Certain findings may warrant stress testing—your heart is induced to work harder (stressed) while parameters such as heart rhythm and rate, blood pressure, and breathing are measured. And if there is suspicion that you have a blocked coronary artery, a cardiac catheterization is performed to visualize the heart vessels and, if found, plaques may be “busted up” and stents placed to support the vessel wall. In some situations, coronary artery bypass surgery may be appropriate.

Women surpass men in asking for help with their health. Experts believe that a contributing factor is our boys and men have been raised in a culture “to be emotionally restrained, keeping things close to the vest, being in control, independent, competitive and to endure.” And although research shows that the majority of men only seek medical counsel when under duress from a family member (or when their condition has deteriorated to a severe state), there is an upside — we can encourage the men in our lives to take steps for better health.

To the men reading, the words stated by Mahatma Gandhi are wise, indeed: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Let’s remain vanguards for our men, and I agree, whatever changes we would like to effect in our society has to begin with us. Turn the volume up!

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