All the Ways We Care: At My Hometown Hospital, We’re Helping Men Take Charge of Their Health

We all know that men and women are different in many ways. But perhaps you’ve never thought about this difference: Men die at higher rates than women from a host of different diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Women also outlive men by five years, and the gap is widening.

Obviously, men need to pay closer attention to their health and face their medical issues head-on rather than ignoring them and hoping they go away. At My Hometown Hospital, we believe that regular health screenings, adopting healthy habits, such as good nutrition and exercise, and increased awareness about health issues can help men live longer lives and narrow the health gender gap. Here’s some helpful information about seven of the most important health issues facing men.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men. One in four will die from some form of heart disease.

Medical Screenings

  • Have your blood pressure checked at least once every one to two years.
  • Have your cholesterol level checked at least every five years and more often if you are at risk for heart disease.
  • Start screening for diabetes at age 45 and at least every three years thereafter. If you have risk factors such as a family history or being overweight, talk to you doctor about being checked earlier.

What You Can Do

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains and avoids the saturated fat found in red meat and fried foods.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Get plenty of sleep and try to reduce your stress level.

Skin Cancer

Men, especially those with lighter skin, are more likely than women to get skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer.

Medical Screenings

  • Report any suspicious moles of unusual changes in your skin to your doctor

What You Can Do

  • Try to avoid being outside during the peak hours of sun, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.
  • Wear protective clothing in the sun, especially a wide brim hat.
  • Avoid tanning beds.

Stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in American men. Men typically have strokes at a younger age than women.

Medical Screenings

  • A test called the carotid ultrasound is available if your doctor hears an abnormal sound listening to your carotid arteries through a stethoscope.

What You Can Do

  • Try to maintain a blood pressure of less than 135/85.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or do it in moderation (one drink per day).
  • If you have an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, get it treated.
  • Follow the What You Can Do advice listed under Heart Disease.

Lung Cancer

More men die of lung cancer than any other type of cancer.

Medical Screenings

  • A lung cancer screening called low-dose computerized tomography is sometimes used to scan the lungs of older adults who are lifetime smokers but don’t have any symptoms of lung cancer. Other tests can include an X-ray and a biopsy.

What You Can Do

  • STOP SMOKING: It’s never too late to quit.
  • Have your home tested and treated for radon, a gas that can cause lung cancer.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting up to 95 percent of the 13 million American men with diabetes.

Medical Screenings

  • The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood glucose screening starting at age 45 or sooner if you are overweight and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes or prediabetes, such as a family history or an inactive lifestyle. After age 45, your doctor will likely recommend a screening every three years.

What You Can Do

  • Stay physically active.
  • Eat plenty of fiber and whole grains.
  • Lose extra weight: If you’re overweight, just losing seven percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.

Depression

With depression come a much higher risk of suicide, and the suicide rate for men is 3.5 times higher than women. That’s the reason it’s so important to seek help for persistent depression.

Medical Screenings

  • Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.

What You Can Do

  • Reach out to a friend or loved one to talk about your feelings.
  • If you think you may hurt yourself or commit suicide, call 911.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is rare, but it is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 35.

Medical Screenings

  • In some cases, men discover they have testicular cancer during a self-exam that detects a lump or during a physical exam by a doctor. The best time to examine your testicles is during or after a bath or shower, when the skin is relaxed. If a lump has been found, an ultrasound test is usually performed to see if the lump is cancer.

What You Can Do

  • There are no known risk factors for testicular cancer, so it’s not possible to prevent most cases.

Sources: American Cancer Society, Harvard Health Publishing, American Diabetes Association