Heart disease. Stroke. Cancer. Chronic respiratory disease. What do these conditions have in common? They make up the surprisingly short list of leading causes of death among adult men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thankfully, you can take action today to reduce your risks. Start by following these recommendations from the Mayo Clinicto live a longer, healthier life.
Stop Dodging Doctors
Men are 24 percent less likely than women to visit their doctors, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet they’re 28 percent more likely than women to require hospitalization for congestive heart failure and 32 percent more apt to receive care for diabetes complications. So don’t skip your annual checkup or wait until something is seriously wrong. Your primary care physician can be your best ally for preventing major health problems. Be aware of which diseases are life threatening in men, and discuss all suspicious symptoms with your doctor.
Take All Medications on Schedule
Be sure to follow your physicians’ treatment recommendations if you have health issues. Not taking your prescribed medicines for conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes can have significant adverse consequences. For convenience, shop for drugs by condition. Then learn how quickly you can place your order online.
Get Essential Health Screenings
Pathologist and men’s health expert Dr. Thomas Wheeler, M.D., FCAP, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, advises following these standard screening guidelines. They can help you prevent or detect illnesses early when they’re the most treatable and before complications arise.
All men should receive these six essential tests during their lifetime.
- Blood pressure check:
This simple and painless test could save your life because high blood pressure often doesn’t have symptoms.
- Cholesterol panel:
Schedule this blood test at least every five years or annually if your levels are abnormal.
- Prostate cancer screenings:
Discuss having a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test with your doctor, starting at age 50. If you’re in a high-risk category, initiate this conversation at age 45. Wheeler recommends that men receive a digital rectal examination whether or not they have a PSA test.
- Colon cancer screenings:
The third most common cancer in Americans is of the colon. Beginning at age 50, men should undergo screening for pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer. Testing may include fecal occult blood test, digital rectal examination, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and/or colonoscopy.
- Skin cancer screening:
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Regular visual inspection of your skin can help you avoid multiple forms including the more uncommon but potentially deadly melanoma.
- Diabetes test:
Men 45 years and older should have a blood-sugar test for Type 2 diabetes every three years. Common screenings include fasting glucose and Hemoglobin A1c. They can detect diabetes early before complications of more advanced disease occur.
Modify Risky Lifestyle Habits
If you’re having trouble quitting smoking or other tobacco products, your doctor can prescribe smoking cessation aids. Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemicals also is important.
Eat a healthy diet.
Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and lean sources of protein such as fish. Select the most colorful produce. Usually, deeper colors indicate that fruits and vegetables are richer in phytonutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Research has found that phytonutrients help fight chronic illness, prevent cancer, and strengthen the immune system. Restrict your intake of foods that are high in saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sodium.
If you choose to consume alcohol, drink only in moderation. That means up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. Those older than 65 may have one alcoholic beverage per day. The risk of developing various types of cancer, including liver cancer, increases with the amount of alcohol you consume and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly. Too much alcohol can also raise your blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Losing excess pounds and keeping them off can lower your risk of heart disease as well as a variety of cancer types.
Include physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise can help you control your weight and lower your heart disease and stroke risks. It also may reduce your chances of developing certain kinds of cancer. Choose sports or other activities that you enjoy from basketball to brisk walking.
Limit sun exposure.
Use sunscreen whenever you’re outdoors.
If you feel on edge or under assault constantly, your immune system may suffer. Any form of physical activity can relieve stress. Laugh more to fire up and then cool down your stress response. Connecting with others socially can help you tolerate life’s up and downs. Learn to say no or delegate to minimize your to-do list and accompanying stress. Enjoy music for its mental distraction, muscle tension reduction, and stress hormone decline. Lose yourself in a fun hobby that requires you to focus on creativity. Try taking up yoga, which combines physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness and relaxation.