From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Heart Health
July 06, 2017

Small changes with big benefits

Kristen Wyrick, MD
Carolina Family Medicine

You probably have heard people say that men do not take their health as seriously as they should. A national survey found that only three in five men get yearly checkups, and only 40 percent of men go to the doctor when they suspect something is seriously wrong.

While men need to be proactive in all aspects of their health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the top five health issues facing men.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer for both men and women, but nearly twice as many men die each year from cardiovascular issues than women. The CDC reports that one in four men suffer from some form of heart disease Men of African-American or Mexican-American heritage have a higher risk for cardiovascular issues. According to the American Heart Association, genetics plays a part in your likelihood of developing heart disease, but there are several controllable factors that increase your chances: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and diabetes.

Stroke is the third leading killer for both men and women in the United States. For men, the risk of stroke is 25 percent greater. Many of the same issues that lead to heart disease also increase the risk of a stroke. High blood pressure is the main correctable cause of strokes. Things such as smoking (even secondhand smoke), poor diet and lack of exercise increase your chances as you age. 

Depression is considered to be one of the greatest disease burdens of the 21st century. While depression is common, the stigma that rests on those who admit they are suffering is daunting to most men. Women are more likely to get a diagnosis for depression, but men are more likely to commit suicide because of their depression, according to the CDC. 

Lung cancer kills more people a year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, reports the CDC. One out of four cancer deaths is from lung cancer, and men are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than women. According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 117,000 new cases of lung cancer, with just under 84,600 deaths in men, a year. 

Prostate cancer is a serious form of cancer that will develop in 11 percent of American men. The American Cancer Society reports that there are about 27,000 deaths per year nationwide from prostate cancer, though they do note that, while it is a serious disease, most who are diagnosed do not die from it if it is caught in time. The chances of developing prostate cancer go up as men age. Men 65 or older are at the highest risk.

Men can take their health seriously by making small changes. For example, they can start being more active, avoid simple sugars, cut back on fried food and see their doctor yearly. “Exercise does not have to be complicated, just aim to get moving for half an hour three times a week,” said Kristen Wyrick, MD, a family physician at Carolina Family Medicine, a Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group practice. “Obesity is one of the gateway health issues that leads to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke along with kidney disease and certain cancers. Weight loss of just 10 percent can really impact the rest of your health for the better.”

These small changes add up to important health benefits and a healthier you. 

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