Frankfort, Ky. (June 15, 2004) -- The week of June 14 has been proclaimed as 2004 National Men’s Health Week. It ends on Father’s Day, June 20. The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) wants to take this opportunity to draw attention to the health needs of the state’s male population.
“Health care is not generally a priority for many men. They go about their lives paying little attention to what could be the early warning signs for a serious illness,” according to Dr. Rice Leach, commissioner of public health. Statistics indicate that men tend to visit the doctor half as often as women. On average, men die six years younger than females.
A routine physical examination is an ideal opportunity to ask questions about health concerns and receive the necessary screenings to detect disease at an early stage.
The best chances of avoiding diseases are prevention, self-examination, and regular physician visits. Regular screening can catch many diseases at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to be successful.
Men have higher death rates than women for each of the 15 leading causes of death except Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics, the three leading causes of death among Kentucky’s male population are:
- Diseases of the heart
- Unintentional injury
KDPH recommends that men meet with their physician at least once a year, especially those over 50. If they don’t have a physician, contact the local health departments to determine which screenings are offered there. Here are a few areas men should consider when reviewing their health:
Routine physical exams. A routine physical is an ideal opportunity to ask questions about health concerns and receive the latest information to remain healthy. Routine visits become more important and should occur more frequently after age 50 when the rates of heart disease and cancer increase for most men.
Blood Pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Reading higher than 140/90 milligrams of mercury may require some lifestyle changes or medication to bring the blood pressure under control.
Cholesterol. High cholesterol also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. If your doctor plans to check your cholesterol, ask if you need to fast (not eat food for six to eight hours before your blood is drawn.
Diabetes. Diabetes is a common condition that greatly increases the risk of other medical problems including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and circulatory problems. Screening is the best way to detect diabetes because adults develop diabetes will have few, if any, symptoms.
Prostate Cancer screening. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men. Screening for early stages of prostate cancer remain controversial. Men who are older than 50 and younger men with a family history of prostate cancer should discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their doctor.
Colon Cancer Screening. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men. Everyone over 50 should be screened for colon cancer regularly. Younger men with a family history of colon cancer should also be screened.
Immunizations. Immunizations are a simple and effective away to avoid important infections. Talk to your doctor about which immunizations are appropriate for you.