Health Tips for Men
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Minority Health, men in the United States are expected to live nearly six years less than women, and non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native men have a lower expectancy than non-Hispanic white men.
While those statistics may seem grim, many of the diseases that disproportionately impact men, such as heart disease and cancer, are preventable. So, what can you do, or the men in your life do, to live a healthier life?
One of the most important things a man can do is visit a primary care provider annually, says Dr. Jonathan Katz, a provider at Middlesex Health Primary Care - Middletown who cares for patients of all ages. Regular doctor’s visits, along with forming good habits, help you get and stay healthy. A primary care provider can help catch concerns early — before they become a bigger problem.
“I encourage everyone to be deeply invested in their own health,” says Dr. Katz. “No doctor is able to sit with you for every meal or motivate you daily to be physically active, but a primary care provider is your coach for your health! Your primary care provider will help make sure you are aware of steps to take to lower your risk of heart disease, screen for cancers, provide life-saving vaccinations, monitor chronic conditions and serve as your first call when acute issues arise.”
Dr. Katz also says men should:
- Follow colon cancer screening guidelines. Screenings are now recommended beginning at age 45, or younger if you have a family history of colon cancer. If the idea of having a colonoscopy is intimidating, don’t delay screening. Instead, talk to your medical provider about possible alternative screening methods.
- Improve their nutrition by starting with a simple goal. Eating well is not an “all or nothing” lifestyle. Start by eating one fruit and one vegetable a day, if you don’t already. This can be an excellent way to jumpstart good nutrition habits!
- Find an enjoyable activity (like golf) that gets the body moving! You don’t need to join a gym to be healthy. Any form of regular physical activity that keeps your heart rate elevated will benefit you. Work with their primary care provider to screen regularly for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and and high blood sugar — all of which are key to identifying your risk for heart disease.
- Talk to a medical provider about prostate cancer screenings to determine timing and the best way to screen for this cancer
- Learn their family medical history. While your family medical history doesn’t always predict your own health, patterns in families can provide valuable insight and help your medical provider better care for you.
- Quit smoking to improve their heart and lungs, or let their medical provider know that they used to smoke. An ultrasound of the abdomen is recommended for anyone 65 to 75 years of age who has ever smoked. It’s used to identify an abdominal aortic aneurysm, an abnormally enlarged blood vessel, before it becomes a problem.
A Word About Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. While a family history of heart attacks and strokes may raise your risk for heart disease, Dr. Katz says a healthy lifestyle and medications, when needed, can lower your risk drastically.
When it comes to your diet, focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat, lean proteins. Stay away from processed foods and limit alcohol!
If you are just starting a new exercise routine, you may want to talk to your doctor first. If you have not been active regularly, you may want to start slowly and increase your amount of physical activity over time.
It is recommended that individuals exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (brisk walking), 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (jogging or cycling) or some combination of the two every week. This is in addition to muscle strengthening activities at least two days every week.
Other Important Information From Middlesex for Men
One common medical problem that greatly impacts a man’s quality of life is an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate prevents a man from fully emptying his bladder, and it can cause other issues.
To help, Middlesex Health offers Aquablation therapy, a relatively new treatment option that is described as a game changer. Aquablation therapy uses real-time ultrasound and high-velocity water jets to treat lower urinary tract symptoms due to an enlarged prostate, and medical professionals say it could replace transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), a surgical treatment that has been the gold standard of treatment for many years.
Prostate cancer is also a problem that many men face. It is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of death in men in the United States, and many men in Connecticut come to Middlesex Health for their care.
Early prostate cancer rarely has symptoms, but a screening by your doctor may help identify prostate cancer when it is still localized to the prostate. Screenings can include a digital rectal exam or a PSA test, which involves a blood sample, and Dr. Katz says it is very important to get these screenings, and other cancer screenings, as recommended by your doctor.
And if a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the goal is to address it early. For men with low-risk prostate cancer, physicians may opt for active surveillance. Surgery to remove the prostate is also a possible treatment for prostate cancer patients, or they may receive radiation therapy.
Middlesex Health Cancer Center offers the SpaceOAR System, as appropriate, to prostate cancer patients who receive radiation therapy. This system uses an injectable gel to create a temporary space between the prostate and rectum. This space limits the impact of radiation to the gastrointestinal system and lowers the risk of side effects while ensuring that the full dose of radiation is delivered to the prostate gland.
For more information about Middlesex Health, including Middlesex Heath’s primary care providers, visit MiddlesexHealth.org.
The perfect time to consider the biomechanics associated with your golf swing is during Connecticut’s cold winter months, and Middlesex Health can help!
Artificial intelligence is a hot topic, and it can impact so many aspects of life. Workers in various job sectors are learning to use this new technology, and golfers are using artificial intelligence to improve their game!