5 health risks every man should know

If you’re a guy who heads to the doctor only when a major issue pops up, you’re not alone. In fact, 72% of men surveyed say they’d rather do household chores than go to the doctor.

Men are less likely than women to seek routine care, which may mean men are also less likely to know the risk factors that could end up negatively affecting their physical and mental health. 

“For some men, focusing on their health may be at the bottom of their priorities, but it shouldn’t be that way,” said Dr. Gerald Hautman, chief medical officer for population health at UnitedHealthcare. “Encouraging men to take an active role in their health and well-being may help address health issues earlier and lead to a more positive quality of life.”

Consider these five things that commonly affect men’s health:

1. Heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S. It includes a range of conditions that affect your heart, such as coronary artery disease. Even without symptoms, you can still be at risk. What’s more, a new study states being a father may put men at even greater risk of poor heart health later in life, due to added stress and less time to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

2. Stroke

Stroke is a leading cause of both death and long-term disability in men — with African-American men at the highest risk. Stroke is caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow. The chance of stroke increases as you get older, but it can happen at any age.

  • Action step: High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor, so staying within a healthy range is important. Smoking also increases the chance for stroke, especially for African Americans. If you smoke, consider quitting for good.

3. Cancers

Cancers common in men include lungcolorectalprostate and testicular. Learning the basics about these cancers can help you know when it’s time to act. Self-checks, self-care and regular visits with your doctor are other easy things you can do to stay healthy or catch something suspicious before it becomes a serious problem.

  • Action step: The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to refrain from using tobacco and avoid secondhand smoke. For other cancers, know your family history with the disease, follow screening guidelines and discuss concerns with your primary care provider.

4. Kidney stones

Kidney stones are on the rise for everyone, but men are more likely than women to develop them. The hard, pebble-like materials form in the kidneys when high levels of certain minerals are present in urine. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you are more likely to deal with them. Also, if you develop kidney stones once, you’re more likely to get them again.

  • Action step: Drinking enough liquid each day — with water being the best choice — can keep your urine diluted and may help flush away minerals that might form stones. It’s recommended men drink almost four quarts of liquid each day.

5. Depression

Depression affects at least 6 million men every year. Even though efforts to end the stigma around mental health continue, some men may still struggle in silence. Other men may appear to be angry or aggressive instead of sad and may not recognize these behaviors as symptoms of depression. 

One more thing: Even if you’re in relatively good shape, it can be challenging to keep track of all the tests, vaccines and other preventive measures needed to stay on top of your health. That’s why it’s important to have an annual exam. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your primary care provider, think about scheduling an appointment.

See more men's preventive health tips.

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