For many men, tolerating pain is a sign of manhood. For others, seeing a doctor for annual checkups is a low priority in their busy lives. Unfortunately, health experts warn such behavior is dangerous, and can lead to serious health consequences.
According to a 2019 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 15% of men aged 18 and older in the United States are considered to be in fair or poor health. Because many men often don’t see a doctor until in the later stages of physical/mental ailments, they are often playing Russian roulette with their health! It’s important to know that catching a disease in its early stages can be the difference between life and death!
With Father’s Day only days away, and Men’s Health Week being recognized nationally June 14-20, it’s important for men across Southern California to better understand some of the ailments that commonly affect them.
The CDC reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States across most racial/ethnic groups. About half of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms, the CDC notes, adding between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men.
“A Diet lacking in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as smoking, high blood pressure, and high LDL cholesterol levels are some of the most critical risk factors for heart disease among men,” said Dr. Columbus D. Batiste II, a cardiologist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Other medical conditions and poor lifestyle choices that will put men at a higher risk of heart disease include being overweight or obese, diabetes, uncontrolled stress, a lack of exercise and excessive alcohol use.”
High Blood Pressure
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure typically has no signs or symptoms, making it that much more dangerous. Unless treated, however, the consequences to men’s health can be serious. Black men are more likely to suffer from hypertension, which can be attributed to that community’s extra sensitivity to salt, a major cause of high blood pressure.
That is why it’s important for men to better understand the causes and treatment of this health condition and know how to protect themselves, including lowering your salt intake, as well as the importance of exercise. Because high blood pressure typically has no signs or symptoms, that makes it that much more dangerous. In fact, it’s for that reason that hypertension is often called a “Silent Killer.”
About 12 out of 100 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute. If detected early – and with proper treatment – most men will survive prostate cancer.
For Black men, the risk of dying from low-grade prostate cancer is double that of men of other races, according to the National Cancer Institute. That’s why early treatment is so critically important.
The following factors can elevate risk of prostate cancer:
1) Presence of close male members of the family who had prostate cancer.
2) A diet high in red meats, processed foods and high-fat dairy and low in fruits and vegetables.
3) Obesity in some studies has been linked to more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
4) Men older than 65 have a higher risk.
5) African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to be diagnosed with
6) The risk of prostate cancer rises after age 50, and is even higher after age 65.
7) Inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1/BRCA2 genes and Lynch syndrome.
“That’s why discussing appropriateness of screening for prostate cancer is critical as men get older, even when there are no clear symptoms,” said Dr. Michael Soleimani, a family medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “When it comes to prostate health, I encourage men to not ignore this health issue, and to ask their doctor if testing is advisable. The fact is, when detected early, prostate cancer is highly treatable.”
Depression, which can strike any person at almost any age, is a major mental health concern among men because many men who are depressed may show anger or aggressive behavior instead of being sad, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Additionally, the NIMH notes men are less likely than women to recognize, talk about and seek treatment for depression, although this mental health disorder affects a large number of males and requires medical attention.
“Men with depression exhibit different symptoms, but there is some commonality,” said Dr. Juan-Carlos Zuberbuhler, a board-certified child/adolescent/adult psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Common depression symptoms include a loss of interest in work and family, exhibiting anger, feeling restless, feeling a need for alcohol or drugs in order to escape or avoid the anguish they are feeling, and becoming more and more isolated. If any of that occurs, it’s important to seek treatment. Taking care of your mental health and asking for professional help is a sign of courage and strength, not weakness. A major trait of resilient men is that they both give and reach out for help when they need it.”
According to the latest research, approximately 1 billion persons worldwide and up to 30% of Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Men are at a higher risk for OSA as they grow older, especially in those who are overweight. OSA is caused by intermittent blockage of the airway during sleep and is often associated with loud snoring, interrupted sleep, daytime sleepiness and heartburn.
“This sleep disorder is strongly associated with major health problems,” said Dr. Dennis Hwang, co-chair, Sleep Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “If left untreated, it could result in high blood pressure, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke and other cardiovascular problems. Sleep apnea is also associated with type 2 diabetes and depression.”
Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Southern California have noted that untreated moderate to severe OSA is associated with a 70% increased risk of a heart attack or stroke within 1 year. The good news is that this research also reveals that proper use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy may reduce that risk by 53%.
“It’s important to remember that getting treatment for sleep apnea can be life-changing with improvements in sleepiness, quality-of-life and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases,”
Dr. Hwang said.