The average man pays less attention to his health than the average woman. Compared to women, men are more likely to
- drink alcohol and use tobacco
- make risky choices
- not see a doctor for regular checkups
Men are assailed by the diseases that can affect anyone—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression… But they also have unique issues such as prostate cancer and benign prostate enlargement.
Many of the major health risks that men face can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking, stress reduction, and alcohol consumption in the moderate range (no more than two drinks a day) if at all. Regular checkups and screening tests can spot disease early, when it is easiest to treat.
So don't be an average man — get on board with protecting your health today.
Men's Health Articles
With summer's approach come plans for travel, including flying long distances. But the prospect of a long flight often raises health concerns. Especially in passengers who are older or have certain conditions, air travel and the related stress can have an impact on health. Here are a few trouble areas and some precautions you can take.
Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). Not all experts agree on an association between DVT (blood clots in the legs) and air travel. Symptoms may not occur for several days, so it's difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. If there is one, it's likely due to prolonged inactivity. Limited airline space can discourage moving about. Dry cabin air may also increase the risk of DVT.
Prolonged inactivity slows circulation, allowing small clots to form in the legs and feet. The body's own clot busters kick in for most people, but in people with certain risk factors, the clots can get big enough to block a vein. These include cancer, heart disease, infection, pregnancy, and obesity, as well as recent injury or surgery. Smoking also raises the risk, as do birth control pills, selective estrogen receptor modulators, and postmenopausal hormones.
In men without cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction (ED) pills are very safe. The three rivals -- Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra -- have similar side effects, including headache, facial flushing, nasal congestion, diarrhea, backache, and, in a few Viagra or Levitra users, temporary impaired color vision (men with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare eye disease, should check with their ophthalmologists before using these medications).
Headaches and blue vision are one thing, cardiac abnormalities, quite another. Are ED pills safe for the heart?
These drugs are safe for healthy hearts, but all men with cardiovascular disease should take special precautions, and some cannot use them under any circumstances. The problem is their effect on arteries. All arteries, not just those in the penis, generate nitric oxide, so any artery can widen in response to Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis, causing blood pressure to drop temporarily by 5-8 mmHg, even in healthy men.
When you are alone and have to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), your primary effort should be compressing the chest to help the person's heart pump blood. If there is a second person helping, providing breaths can be done at the same time as compressions are performed.
The brief review of CPR on the following pages can help you in an emergency; however, this information should not take the place of a certified course in CPR.
Immediate care Assess the situation. Call out for someone to get help or call 911 yourself if the person does not seem to need immediate assistance. You can determine this by gently shaking the person and asking in a loud voice, "Are you OK?" If there is no response, begin CPR and continue until help arrives.
This list describes your priorities in an emergency situation. Follow these steps:
This position helps a semiconscious or unconscious person breathe and permits fluids to drain from the nose and throat so they are not breathed in. If the person is unconscious or semiconscious after you have done everything on the Emergency Checklist, move the person into the recovery position while waiting for help to arrive.
Do not use the recovery position if the person has a major injury, such as a back or neck injury
Men: Don't be surprised if a discussion with your doctor about erection problems veers into a talk about your heart, or vice versa. Problems getting or keeping an erection may be a red flag for heart trouble down the road, and many men with heart disease have sexual concerns they aren't talking about.
The connection between heart disease and erection problems (doctors call it erectile dysfunction) isn't far-fetched at all. Both follow the same age-related trajectory and become increasingly common from age 45 onward. They even share common causes.
A study of middle-aged California men begun many years ago shows that smoking, overweight, and high cholesterol or high triglycerides — all risk factors for heart disease — were also linked with erection problems 25 years later.
We can thank the Greeks for the name doctors apply to male hormones. Androgen comes from the words meaning "man-maker," and it's a well-chosen term. Testosterone is the most potent androgen, and it does make the man. It's responsible for the deep voice, increased muscle mass, and strong bones that characterize the gender, and it also stimulates the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow.
In addition, testosterone has crucial, if incompletely understood, effects on male behavior. It contributes to aggression, and it's essential for the libido or sex drive, as well as for normal erections and sexual performance. Testosterone stimulates the growth of the genitals at puberty, and it is one of the factors required for sperm production throughout adult life.
Finally, testosterone also acts on the liver. Normal amounts are harmless, but high doses can cause liver disease and boost the production of LDL ("bad") cholesterol while lowering the amount of HDL ("good") cholesterol.
The aorta is the body's largest blood vessel. It begins at the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, heads toward the neck for a few inches, and then travels down the back of your chest and into the abdomen. The seven-inch stretch of the vessel in the abdomen is called the abdominal aorta. In some people, a section of the abdominal aorta may weaken and bulge, a condition called abdominal aorticaneurysm (AAA).
AAAs are more likely to form in people who have atherosclerosis or who have risk factors that can cause atherosclerosis such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are more common in men than in women, and this risk is heightened in men who smoke or used to smoke. Also, people ages 65 and older are at the highest risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm. AAAs also tend to run in families.
If the aneurysm becomes too large, it can burst and cause rapid, profuse, and often fatal bleeding. Doctors follow patients who have AAAs closely. But how does a person know whether or not they have an AAA? Until recently, clinicians have checked for this problem during a person's health checkup to try to feel for a bulging aneurysm in the belly. If a doctor thinks he or she feels an aneurysm, an ultrasound or CT scan is ordered. But no doctor's fingers are perfect at detecting aneurysms, and until recently there have been no clear guidelines on screening people for this problem.
As if there wasn't enough for men to worry about: Osteoporosis, the bone-thinning condition once considered a disease affecting just women, is now coming to light as an under-diagnosed condition in men. In fact, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2 million American men have osteoporosis and another 12 million are at risk for it. Men over 50 are actually at a greater risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture than they are for prostate cancer.
Osteoporosis has been largely overlooked in men for a few reasons. Men generally have larger and stronger bones than women by the time they are 30, when peak bone density is achieved. Also, men do not experience rapid bone thinning like women do following menopause. But, as in women, the bones of men start to gradually thin and lose strength after age 30. And bone density is affected by heredity, diet, sex hormones, lifestyle choices, physical activity, and the use of certain medications. So although men have a leg up on women in terms of peak bone density, they can still get into trouble if the conditions are right.
The risk factors for osteoporosis in men include: