There’s a reason women live longer
June is Men’s Health Month. The goal of this month is to bring to the forefront awareness of preventable health problems and those that benefit from early detection. A study done by the CDC revealed women to be 100 percent more likely than men to seek preventive healthcare. For all types of non-pregnancy-related visits for people in the 15-44 year old age group, women had a visit rate of 56 percent greater than men. Women also access medical care for screening and education more than men. No wonder women live longer! In 1920, the average lifespan of women was only one year longer than a man, now it is five years. For nine of the top 10 causes of death, men have higher death rates than women.
Dr. David Gremillion of Men’s Health Network observed “men live sicker and die younger than American women.”
Let’s spend a few minutes talking about just a couple of the areas in which you might influence the males important to you to make their lives healthier and better. Cardiovascular disease in one form or another affects over 39 million American males, with approximately 392,000 dying from cardiovascular disease annually. A greater number have disability or significant decrease in their quality of life from these diseases. Some of the common diseases in this category include coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke. Many of these are diseases that can be controlled with medication, diet and lifestyle changes (translated as exercise often and drink only in moderation). Regular preventive visits to your PCP are the best defense for these. I have noted in prior articles that I have taken medication for my blood pressure and cholesterol dating back to my teenage years – and I believe it to be a direct reason for my still being here and being healthy.
Some common nutritional tips for good cardiovascular health include: eating at least 3 ounces of whole grains each day, eating several servings of fruits and vegetables daily, limiting sodium intake, limiting oils or, when using them choosing olive, canola or nut oils; avoiding animal and saturated fats.
The other broad area I’d like to touch on is mental health and well-being. As noted, men are less likely to see a healthcare provider than women. What’s worse is that when we do, we are often silent regarding issues that might concern us, especially anything involving mood, feelings or concerns around mental health. We wait to be told that we appear to be fine and then assume there is nothing wrong. I’d like to make a definitive statement here as someone who finished both four years of medical school and four years of residency. At no time during the entire eight years was I or any of my colleagues given the gift of mind reading. Never assume any physician “knows” (or should know) what you are feeling, thinking or worried about – you need to tell us. This is not a sign of weakness, and we do want to help. Unfortunately, as a result of this stoic silence, depression or other signs of illness that could be helped may go unrecognized. The sad fact is men are four times as likely to commit suicide as women, and the disparity increases with age.
There are many stressors that can impact mental health – divorce, separation, death, job loss, caring for an aging parent, and unexpected illness. Getting through these times may require some help. Your PCP is a good source for guidance. Also remember here at Cape Cod Healthcare, we have access to an Employee Assistance Program, Lifescope [pdf] which can help access counseling to help us and our families get through a difficult time.
In short, please let June as Men’s Health Month be a spark to help you or a male who you love get on track to live as happy and healthy a life as possible.
Please visit the Quality of Life Facebook page for information on an important aspect of your healthcare.