WASHINGTON — A new study has revealed the five most common health issues in men and how to prevent them.
Kevin Polsley of Loyola University said that a lot of men think going to the doctor is just one more thing on a seemingly endless "to do" list, but to get all those other "to dos" done men need to starting thinking about their health and making it a priority.
One of the top five health concerns for men is heart disease. Men have a higher risk of heart attacks than women and these risks increase when there is family history of the disease. Heart disease risks also increase if a man smokes, has high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.
Polsley said that exercise and diet are extremely important in preventing heart attacks. Routine preventive care appointments with a primary care physician also can help identify most of these risk factors, and modification and treatment of these risks factors can help decrease the risk as well.
Second is sleep apnea. It is estimated that 18 million Americans have sleep apnea but many aren't tested for it. Subtle symptoms include snoring, waking up frequently in the night to urinate, headaches in the morning or waking up with a dry mouth.
Many men's health issues can be helped if they take steps to manage their sleep apnea. Long-term complications from the disease include high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, so it's an important condition to diagnose and treat, said Polsley. Weight loss can help decrease this problem. Polsley recommends a sleep test to determine the cause of the sleep apnea and the best treatment.
Third is high blood pressure. Family history and obesity are two of the leading causes of high blood pressure. Weight loss can decrease the risk of developing the disease. A low-sodium diet also can help when battling high blood pressure. Many people think that means just avoiding salt, but it's more than that; it's a lifestyle.
Fourth is high cholesterol also has a strong genetic component. Still, a man can have high cholesterol even if there is no family history. Diet and exercise are key to preventing this disease. Diet and exercise are the best way to help prevent high cholesterol. If you have a family history or are concerned, eating fish or taking a fish oil supplement also has been shown to help prevent high cholesterol.
Fifth is colon cancer. Early detection is important for battling colon cancer so a colonoscopy should be done every 10 years after the age of 50 or earlier if there is a family history. If caught early, the prognosis for colon cancer is good. That is why everyone, men and women, should have routine colonoscopies. They may not be pleasant, but they can save your life, said Polsley.