11 Oct Keeping Your Health Tuned Up
Several weeks ago I had an appointment with my primary care physician for a routine check up. As I was sitting in the waiting area I was struck by an interesting observation. About 75% of the patients that came through the waiting area were WOMEN. I thought to myself about why more WOMEN access healthcare than MEN. I never came up with a clear cut answer but one thing I do know is that MEN need healthcare and often times they seek care for medical problems later than they should. I can relate to this fact. My wife has to remind me ( a physician) that I need to keep my regular physical with my primary care physician!! I often encourage my male patients to see their bodies like they see their CARS. Would you drive 100,000 miles in your vehicle without getting an oil change!!
My recent research suggests that there are FIVE major health issues that affect men. These medical issues are as follows:
- Heart Disease
- Lung Cancer
- Prostate Cancer ( particularly in African American Men)
Heart Disease is the most common cause of death in the United States. About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US each year. In fact it is more common among men compared to women. The economic cost of heart disease is staggering. In 2015, hospitalization costs from heart disease was 3.2 billion dollars. Risk factors for heart disease include smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. Interestingly a lack of physical activity contributes to a 30% increased risk of developing coronary artery disease ( blockage of vessels going to the heart).
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States. In addition, African- American men are 50% more likely to die of a stroke compared to white men. Risk factors for stroke are similar to heart disease. They include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and physical inactivity.
Men are twice as likely to die from lung cancer compared to women. This is primarily because men seek care for symptoms related to lung cancer compared to women. As a result the cancer is far advanced which leads to higher death rates. In my state of South Carolina lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the state. Of course the most common risk factor for lung cancer is SMOKING. Interestingly, second hand smoke exposure is an important cause of lung cancer as well. The theory is that second hand smoke is more concentrated leading to more exposure to cancer causing agents in cigarettes.
The number of US citizens with diabetes is almost at epidemic proportions. IN addition about 1/3 of Americans have diabetes and DON’T EVEN KNOW it!! You are more likely to develop diabetes if you have the following:
- Age over 45
- A family history of Diabetes
- Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Have high blood pressure
- Are not physically active
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed overall among men. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths behind lung cancer. African – American men are almost twice as likely to develop prostate cancer when compared to other racial groups. In fact, in the state of South Carolina African American men have the 3 highest rates of prostate cancer in the United States. About 97% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 50.
So how can a man TUNE UP THEIR HEALTH. The following Tips can help you stay healthy and live longer
- Get Regular Checkups (especially if over age 40)
- Become More Physically Active
- If Overweight or Obese then work to loose 20% of current body weight
- If you have Diabetes then shoot for an A1c level of less than 7.0
- If you have high blood pressure shoot for an average blood pressure of 130/80
- If you have high cholesterol then shoot for an LDL cholesterol of less than 100
- If you smoke – – – STOP !!!!
I would recommend you try at least 3 of these tips to start. If you can accomplish all of them I promise you that you will have better control over your chronic disease and live a more prosperous, healthy life.