8 Health Issues Men Need to Know

The month of Movember has come around again, and it’s an excellent time to talk about men’s health issues. It’s important for men of all ages to stay up-to-date with changes in the diseases and illnesses that affect them most. It’s a fact that men die at higher rates than women for all of the top 10 causes of death. These causes are:

  • Heart Disease

  • Cancer

  • Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

  • Stroke

  • Unintentional Injuries

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Diabetes

  • Influenza and Pneumonia

  • Kidney Disease

  • Suicide

It’s time to learn more about the advancements in the diseases that affect men most. Learn more about how six of the ten causes of death affect men and where science is leading researchers next.


1. Heart Disease

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Heart disease is an all encompassing term that includes heart failure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, congenital heart disease and more. Heart failure means that the heart is not pumping as well as it should. Coronary artery disease is the hardening of the arteries. Abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmia, can produce a very slow or very fast heartbeat. Congenital heart disease is a birth defect in the heart or blood vessels and affects 8 out of 1,000 children.

In 2009, one in every four male deaths was from heart disease. Half of all the men who died suddenly from heart disease had no prior complications or symptoms. In total, up to 80% of sudden cardiac events happen in men. Risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and smoking.

The American Heart Association recently developed new guidelines for heart disease prevention. Tips include new cholesterol guidelines, lifestyle guidelines, obesity and a risk assessment. The Cardiology and Heart Care Center at St. Luke’s can help you make the right decisions for you and your heart. 


2. Prostate Cancer

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This cancer progresses slowly, and if detected early, treatment becomes much more successful. Things like age, genetics and diet can greatly affect whether or not you develop prostate cancer. Men over the age of 65 are more likely to develop this cancer and risk increases even more if you have a father or brother who was diagnosed.

Signs of prostate cancer include pelvic discomfort, difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen and impotence. Once you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and active surveillance. After a successful treatment, studies show that around 25% of those men will re-develop the cancer. 

Researchers have recently linked genetics and prostate cancer. Tests are being developed to find the abnormal genes that may cause this cancer and give men a head’s up as to whether they are at risk. Genes can also give researchers an idea of how the cancer was inherited, if it will spread and how aggressive it will be. The cancer care team at St. Luke’s can help you determine what is right for you and your health.

 

3. Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer generally occurs in the germ cells in the testicles, which produce sperm. This type of cancer is rare, with only one out of every 270 men developing it in their lifetime. It is most commonly diagnosed in men between the ages of 15 and 34. Luckily, testicular cancer is often highly treatable.

Not a lot is known about the factors that increase the risk of developing testicular cancer. Things that might increase your risk include undescended testicles, genetics, ethnicity, age and weight. Unfortunately, men who are diagnosed with this cancer often do not have any of those risk factors. The signs of testicular cancer include swelling or a lump in either testicle, irregularity in shape, size or texture of the testicles, breast tenderness and aches and pains in the lower back and abdomen. It’s important that men perform self-exams on a monthly basis as a preventative and early detection measure.

Treatment options for testicular cancer include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Depending on the level of treatment, sex drive and sperm count may both decrease. If only one testicle is lost, there is usually no effect on either of these.  If both testicles are lost, testosterone supplements can be taken to counteract any side effects. Researchers have recently made advancements in the fertility options for testicular cancer survivors. Since this cancer happens to younger men, fertility is often a major issue. There have been many discoveries in assisted reproduction to help survivors have a family.


4. Obesity & Diabetes

Eight percent of the United States’ population has diabetes. Not only does the risk of diabetes increase as you age, but it increases even more if you are male. A major factor in developing type two diabetes is being overweight or obese.

Diabetes occurs when the body cannot control blood glucose levels on its own. Type two diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin over time. Obesity and diabetes are linked because excess weight makes the body less responsive to insulin. Inactivity is also linked to both obesity and loss of blood sugar control.

Around 79 million people are pre-diabetic, which means they are at risk for developing diabetes in the future. A simple blood test is used to look for elevated blood sugar levels. Signs of diabetes include increased thirst, increased hunger, fatigue, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision and wounds that don’t heal. Make an appointment today with the St. Luke’s diabetes team to make a plan for your health.


5. Stroke

More men have strokes than women. A stroke happens when blood flow is cut off from the brain. There are two types of strokes:

Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke is when blood clots form in the brain or in the arteries leading to the brain. The blood clots then block blood from getting to the brain. 

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and blood damages the brain tissue.

Symptoms of a stroke are weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg on one side of the body, loss of vision, loss of speech, a sudden severe headache and loss of balance. Risk factors of stroke include high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, excessive alcohol and obesity. Learn more stroke facts from St. Luke’s.


6. Lung Cancer

Lung cancer causes more deaths than the next most common cancers combined, which are colon, breast and pancreatic cancers. In 2010, 87,740 men died from lung cancer. This year, approximately 224,210 people will be diagnosed with this cancer.

The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than their nonsmoking counterparts.

Studies show that men develop lung cancer more often than women. There is a one in three chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime. Two-thirds of diagnoses happen in people over the age of 65. Survival rates all depend on the time of diagnosis. If the lung cancer is caught early enough, the survival rates are higher. 

Advancements in chemotherapy have made it easier to treat non-small cell lung cancer, which was previously thought to be untreatable with this treatment. Chemotherapy is now given earlier along with other treatment options to slow the cancer or cure it. Take care of your lungs with help from St. Luke’s Pulmonology and Critical Care Department.


7. Kidney Disease

Kidneys are supposed to balance the water and minerals in your blood, remove waste from the blood, produce an enzyme that regulates blood pressure, stimulate red blood cell production and produce vitamin D for your bones. When someone develops kidney disease, also called kidney failure or acute renal failure, the kidneys become damaged and can no longer remove waste and fluid from the body.

Symptoms include swelling in the ankles, vomiting, weakness, poor sleep and shortness of breath. Complete loss of kidney function is fatal. Kidney injuries can be caused by things like severe infection, obstruction of urine flow or certain drugs or toxins. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the major causes of kidney disease.


8. COPD

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This disease is an umbrella term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both types of COPD cause difficulty breathing. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2010 alone, 134,676 people died from COPD.

It has been proven that smoking causes COPD. Around 80% of all COPD deaths can be directly related to smoking. Other risk factors include air pollution, secondhand smoke, occupational dusts and chemicals, genetics and a history of respiratory infections as a child.

While more women die of COPD than men, this disease shouldn’t be overlooked. As the third leading cause of death, the disease is still prevalent. Recent studies have found that COPD is harder to manage in older adults and that they now require different treatment and measurement techniques.

Be a man and schedule regular physicals to keep yourself healthy. Men’s health is often overlooked, but yours shouldn’t be.

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