A new study by Loyola University has revealed that heart disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and colon cancer are the five most common health issues in men. The study also throws light on how to prevent them.
Kevin Polsley of Loyola University said, "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 start thinking about their health and making it a priority."
Men have a higher risk of heart attacks than women and these risks increase when there is family history of cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease risks also increase if a man smokes, has high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes. Polsley said, "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."
It is estimated that 18 million Americans have sleep apnea but many are not tested for it. Subtle symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, waking up frequently in the night to urinate, headaches in the morning or waking up with a dry mouth. Many health issues faced by men 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. Weight loss can help decrease this problem," said Polsley. He recommends a sleep test to determine the cause of the sleep apnea and the best treatment.
Family history and obesity are two leading causes of high blood pressure. Weight loss can decrease the risk of developing the condition. A low-sodium diet also can help when battling hypertension. Polsley said, "Many people think that means just avoiding salt, but it's more than that; it's a lifestyle."
High cholesterol also has a strong genetic component. But, a man can have high cholesterol even if there is no family history. Diet and exercise are key to preventing 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," said Polsley.
Early detection is important for battling colon cancer. Therefore, a colonoscopy should be done every 10 years after the age of 50-years or earlier if there is a family history. If detected 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.