- - Friday, June 10, 2016

Championing men’s good health – while helping to prevent men’s health problems – is not just a man’s issue as it impacts families and our community — wives, moms, daughters, sons, sisters, coworkers and friends. We all need to be valuable resources of good health. Men’s Health Week is celebrated each year during the week leading up to and including Father’s Day. And the purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness for all of us of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

As we step into this special week this year (June 13-19) – there are some facts we all need to understand as we commit to make a healthy difference in the lives of the men and support them in developing healthy self-awareness and meaningful personal relationships. Studies show that culturally women surpass men in asking for help with their health and too, men have been raised in a culture “to endure pain.” Research further shows that many men only seek medical counsel when under duress from a family member or when their condition has deteriorated to a severe state. Add to this these staggering statistics:

• On average, men live approximately 5 years less than women
• According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year
• Coronary artery disease (CAD) is 3 times higher among men who are clinically depressed
• Male suicides outnumber female suicides in every age group
• Homicide and suicide are among the top three causes for death among males between the ages of 15 and 34 years
• By the age of 85, women outnumber men in the U.S. 2.2 to 1; this rises to 3 to 1 if they reach their 90s

Men deserve better!! Experts agree that having an awareness of preventable health problems along with early detection and treatment of chronic illnesses are imperative to improving men’s health.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: Initial Understandings in Helping to Improve Men’s Health

Commitment: Men’s health has unique aspects and this piece is not comprehensive but a start. In addition to certain conditions that only affect men, such as prostate cancer, many of the major health risks that they face—heart disease, lung cancer—can be prevented, slowed down, or treated with early screening and diagnosis. But I need to underscore — this requires awareness and a proactive approach with all of us committed to improve male life expectancy.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Marianne J. Legato, M.D. wrote in her book, Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan: “If we can conquer breast cancer and AIDS to the extent we have, we can certainly save our men.” We all must be vigilant and invested to make a difference in the lives of the men around us.

Routine exams and screenings – a must! Routine, preventive care is crucial to good health and wellness. It allows for screening of medical issues, assessment of risk for future medical problems, encouragement of a healthy lifestyle, and the development of a strong relationship with your healthcare provider. Depending on your age and risk factors, a complete physical exam should be done every 1-3 years.

In regards to health screenings, your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars according to national guidelines. And, too, they will recommend for other appropriate testing such as for prostate and colon cancer, as well as depression screening.

Reduce/manage Stress: Stress takes a unique toll on men’s health – affecting mental and physical health. Research has shown that when the fight or flight response is activated (in both sexes), our bodies go into emergency mode and takes care of immediate and acute needs, such as getting energy to the muscles. As a result, we are unable to take care of our longer-term needs, thereby shutting down things like our immune and reproductive systems (stress decreases testosterone levels).

The wear and tear on the body is severe from repeated stress. An extensive body of research has established that it is a risk factor in the development of heart disease, and inherited stress can also increase the risk of early heart disease. While we may not be able to avoid all stresses, we can all benefit from managing the people and demands that are unnecessary.

This issue of improving men’s health and too, the need of everyone’s commitment to understand how to help improve our men’s lives is important. As a result this is Part I – and next week we will look at more in Part II.

Chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease are responsible for the vast majority of disability and premature deaths during the prime of a man’s life. Early detection, and prevention, relies upon having an awareness of these as well as proper screening. Screening tests can often find these diseases early, when they are easier to treat.

For these reasons, it is crucial that men go against their tendency of avoiding health care and begin having regular checkups and screenings. So to our men— young and old – we are on a mission to help make a difference for your good health now and for generations to come.

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