Attention Men! It’s Your Health

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OK gentlemen…. By now you have switched out those winter tires on the cars and changed the oil in the lawn mower. But let’s not forget your personal tune up. 

June is National Men’s Health Month. It is a time to focus on your health, and to make that long overdue appointment to see the M.D. To say men are hesitant to visit the doctor could be an understatement. We will focus on the 18 to 39 age group, as they have the lowest percentage of medical visits. Men of all ages, remember to take care of yourself, starting with regular visits to your doc even when you feel well.  

Men continue to have a shorter life expectancy than women. In the U.S., 18 to 30-year-olds have more than two-and-a-half times the death rate of women in the same age group. Why is this, and what can be done to increase our longevity and level the playing field? Although there are many reasons for this disparity, let’s focus on the things over which we have control. 

Men in this age group delay doctor visits and often only go when something is wrong. Seeing your PCP (primary care provider) at least every two to five years is important to keep you on track, get recommended screenings, and treat illness early when the outcomes are better. 

Accidents are a leading cause of death in men for this age group, with motor vehicle accidents causing twice as many deaths than occur in women. Whether you become a race car driver or ride your bike without a helmet, risk-taking behavior and dangerous jobs contribute to this variance. Minimize risk by wearing a seat belt, having a designated driver when consuming alcohol, and not smoking, for example. 

Men tend to be less socially connected, which can contribute to depression. Depression and suicide are more prevalent in men and are a leading cause of premature male death, but depression is treatable. 

 Heart disease is responsible for 50 percent more deaths in men than in women and they occur at a younger age. Getting your blood pressure, cholesterol panel, and BMI measured regularly will provide information for recommended treatment options. 

 A visit to a PCP is the start of a collaborative relationship that will offer you guidance from an expert. Your initial visit will establish a health baseline, and includes a history and physical exam, review of family history, and lab work. Discussion about diet, risk factors, family planning, vaccines and STI screening may be included. Reminders to reduce health risks such as smoking, drug use and gun safety may be provided. 

 Addressing the knocking and pinging from your car’s engine in a timely manner may prevent costly repairs down the road. Similarly, getting regular medical care helps maintain your health while reducing chronic disease risk and potentially life-threatening ones.

It is time to redefine the stereotypes of what is considered manly. Caring for yourself is the first step. In the words of that famous shoe company “Just do it.” 

Adam Sheperdigian is a hospitalist at Lutheran Medical Center. 

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