Leading causes of death among men -- and 10 things we can do to try to prevent them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006), the 10 leading causes of death amongst men are:
- Heart Disease (26.3%)
- Cancer (24.1%)
- Accidents (6.6%)
- Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (4.9%)
- Stroke (4.5%)
- Diabetes (3.0%)
- Suicide (2.2%)
- Influenza and Pneumonia (2.1%)
- Kidney Disease (1.8%)
- Alzheimer's Disease (1.8%)
Fortunately, practicing the lifestyle choices can help reduce your risks of the primary health threats and increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life:
- Avoid smoking and/or exposure to second-hand smoke. Some research suggests that smoking is the single most important factor in determining longevity.
- Become or stay physically active. Participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. This can include mowing the yard, playing sports, biking, swimming, jogging or fast walking.
- Eat a healthy diet. Avoid foods that are high in salt, sugar, saturated fats or trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and commonly found in vegetable shortenings, fast food and snack food products). Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods and lean protein sources like fish, chicken, beans, nuts and eggs.
- Manage your weight. Use the Adult BMI Calculator provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.healthfinder.gov/prevention/myHealthfinder.aspx) to see how close you are to your ideal weight. Then, manage the foods you eat and your physical activity to achieve and maintain your weight goals. If you are obese, discuss counseling as well as lifestyle changes with your doctor.
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- Avoid alcohol or drink only in moderation. Men under age 65 should drink no more than 2 servings of alcohol per day. Men over age 65 should limit themselves to 1 drink per day. Persons taking certain medications or have certain health conditions or those who cannot manage their alcohol consumption should refrain completely.
- Consider taking an aspirin daily if you are at an increased risk of heart attack or clot-related stroke. Consult with your doctor, however before beginning an aspirin regimen. As with any medication, the side effects of aspirin use may outweigh the benefits.
- Practice good dental hygiene. Oral health is important, not only so that you can keep your teeth for a lifetime, but for overall health, as well. Oral bacteria may contribute to heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke and, perhaps, Alzheimer's disease. Have a dental checkup at least once a year.
- Manage stress. Start by identifying the causes of stress and then find ways to either reduce their effect or avoid the stressors entirely. Also consider practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, walking or participating in sports.
- Protect yourself against the sun's damaging UV rays. Avoid being outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Otherwise, seek shade, cover up and wear sunscreen. Five or more sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Get these medical tests that are important for men (and work with your doctor to treat or address any concerns that arise):
- High blood pressure: Begin at age 18 with follow-ups at least every two years if your blood pressure is normal (lower than 120/80), once a year if your reading is moderately higher (lower than 139/89), or discuss treatment options if your reading is above 140/90.
- Cholesterol: Begin at age 35 and again every 5 years thereafter. If you are at increased risk for having high cholesterol, have your first test no later than age 20 and more frequently thereafter.
- Colorectal Cancer: Start at age 50 and continue upon your doctor's recommendations until age 75.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (bulging of the abdominal aorta): This one-time-screening is important if you are between ages 65-75 and have ever been a smoker.
- Depression: If symptoms indicate.
- Diabetes: If blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or you take high blood pressure medication.
- HIV and Syphilis: If you are at an increased risk.
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