June is National Men’s Health Month
Men often worry about having a heart attack or getting cancer, but many don't make healthcare a priority. They may schedule regular tune ups for their prized vehicles, but when it comes to preventative healthcare, they often fail to schedule their annual checkup. Men, don’t you think it’s time to make your health a priority?
“Many major health risks men face, such as heart disease and lung or colon cancer, can be prevented and treated if diagnosed early,” stated Dr. William Minteer, invasive cardiologist with ARH Cardiology Associates. “That’s why an annual checkup is so important. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for your loved ones.”
Since most men need to pay more attention to their health, let’s look at the following:
Heart Disease—American men die from heart disease more than anything else, and more than 1 in 3 men have some form of cardiovascular disease. There are many forms, but coronary artery disease is most common. It causes the arteries to narrow and leads to heart attack. Prevention: Maintain a healthy weight, eat a low-fat diet, exercise often and find ways to de-stress. Follow your doctor's orders if you have high cholesterol or hypertension, and control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Cancer—More American men die of lung cancer than any other form of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer and colorectal cancer are the next two greatest concerns. Prevention: Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke, to reduce lung cancer risk. To minimize your risk of other forms of cancer, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, wear sunscreen, only drink alcohol in moderation and see your doctor regularly for cancer screenings.
Stroke—When a blood vessel in the brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot, the resulting lack of oxygen to areas of the brain can have devastating results, including paralysis on one side of the body, speech problems and memory loss. Prevention: You can't change all of your stroke risk factors (like age and race), but quitting smoking, eating a low-fat diet, taking hypertension medication, losing weight and getting regular exercise can help lower your chances.
Type 2 Diabetes—Eleven percent of American men ages 20 and older have type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Complications can cause hypertension, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputations. Prevention: Lose weight if you're too heavy. Exercise regularly and stick to a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) —COPD encompasses a group of chronic diseases like emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. All negatively affect breathing. COPD is sometimes caused by respiratory infections, but it occurs most frequently because of tobacco use or inhaling air pollutants. Prevention: Quit smoking, and avoid air pollution or inhaling chemicals whenever possible.
Kidney Disease—Some people with diabetes or hypertension develop kidney failure over time. Once it becomes severe, patients need dialysis or kidney transplants. Prevention: Eat a healthy, low-salt diet, exercise regularly and take blood pressure medications as needed.
Injuries—Think twice before speeding or weaving in traffic: Car crashes are the top cause of fatal accidents among American men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls and poisonings are second and third on the list. Prevention: Always wear seatbelts, and obey posted speed limits. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or when you're sleepy. Be cautious when standing on ladders. Use nonslip mats in the shower. Install carbon monoxide detectors at home.
Alzheimer's Disease—It's the most common form of dementia in older people, and it usually strikes after age 60. At first, patients may have trouble remembering events or blank on someone's name, but when Alzheimer's becomes severe; patients are unable to care for themselves. Prevention: There's no cure for Alzheimer's and no way to prevent it, but experts believe that eating a low-fat diet rich in fish containing omega-3 fatty acids and staying mentally and socially active may help reduce risk.
“Fear can be a strong motivator for taking action when it comes to your health,” added Dr. Minteer. “Prevention is key when dealing with any health risk. Men, make an appointment with your healthcare provider and have an annual checkup. It’s time to make your healthcare a priority.”
If you do not have a healthcare provider, go to www.arh.org/findadoc to locate a physician near you or call your local ARH hospital for a list of providers.