Across the industrialized world, women typically live 5-10 years longer than men. In the United States, average life expectancy is just over 80 for women and 75 for men.
While genetics do play a role, more than half, and up to 70 percent of the differences in life expectancy, are often due to environmental factors – behaviors and exposures.
In the 55- to 64-year-old range, in particular, more men than women die from heart disease, suicide, car accidents and illnesses related to smoking and alcohol use. Heart disease remains the #1 threat to men – killing five of every 1,000 men in this age group.
Regular screenings can help keep men healthy by detecting serious illnesses in their early stages, allowing for a broader range of treatment options.
Blood Pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, can cause heart attacks, strokes, or kidney and eye problems. The National Institutes of Health recommends blood pressure screenings every two years for men age 18 and older, and yearly for men with a history of high blood pressure.
Cholesterol: High cholesterol puts men at risk for heart attacks and heart disease, the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A cholesterol screening is recommended every five years for men age 35 and older. Men who use tobacco, are obese, or have a personal or family history of heart-related illnesses should start checking their cholesterol at age 20.
Diabetes: Nearly one third of people with diabetes don’t know they have it, according to the NIH. Untreated, diabetes can increase the risk of kidney failure, heart disease, nervous system damage and other serious health problems. Ethnicity, a family history of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol can increase a man’s risk of developing diabetes. Tests should be done once every three years, or more often if your doctor recommends it.
Cancer: Leading in cancer deaths among men is lung cancer – due in large part to cigarette smoking and exposure. It is the second leading cause of death among men. Prostate cancer and colorectal cancer rank second and third. Consult your doctor about regular screenings.
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System provides a full range of health care services especially for men, from prostate health to cardiac and stroke services. For information or referrals to a Sarasota Memorial doctor or program, call (941) 917-7777.