By Dr. Gerard Muraida
June is National Men’s health month. At first glance one might thing that a healthy prostate equates to a healthy senior male. However, men are afflicted with many more health issues north of the body’s equator.
Before we discuss the health issues, consideration of some demographic nuances should be shared.
In 2018 the Cleveland Clinic published a survey regarding the attitudes and behaviors of men and women in regards to their health. Not surprising, the study showed that 40% of men only seek healthcare for emergent care and don’t keep up with routine care.
This survey also showed that about 21% of men admit to avoiding doctor visits because they’re too nervous to find out what might be wrong. What seems to be the barrier between men and healthcare? Attitudinal bias such as machismo plays a large role in delaying care. Fear of the diagnosis, being uncomfortable with the exam and the notion that men are too strong to get sick were the major barriers discovered by a Harvard study in 2019.
When queried about heart disease and erectile dysfunction, both sexes answered that heart disease was more concerning than erectile dysfunction (ED). On the surface this appears to be appropriate, but ED may be the first sign of heart disease. The CDC reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults over 65. Heart disease affect over one third of all senior males. Knowing the early signs of heart disease may allow time to make lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, exercise, a more ideal weight and adequate sleep.
Prostate cancer affects one in every nine males. Fortunately, prostate cancer is very slow – growing and in some cases doesn’t require immediate treatment. Be sure to have your healthcare provider answer your questions regarding prostate cancer screening.
Benin prostatic hypertrophy or an enlarged prostate may lead to frequent night-time trips to the bathroom to urinate, urinary hesitation and poor urinary flow.
Osteoarthritis is the 2nd most common chronic condition afflicting senior males. This type of arthritis is due to chronic overuse of many joints. It may be associated with years of hard work, risky behavior leading to injuries and can be exacerbated by obesity.
Lung disease including COPD and lung cancer are prevalent in senior males. Smoking was once dominated by males and has led to permanent lung damage and even cancer. 90 % of all lung cancers are as a result of tobacco use. If you smoke, quit now! There is good data to support smoking cessation success with assistance. Ask your PCP if lung cancer screening is appropriate for you.
Diabetes mellitus can occur at any age but can complicate all illnesses in senior men. Maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight. Have your healthcare provider evaluate your blood sugar history with a hemoglobin A1C. This measurement gives a 90 day summary of blood sugar levels.
If you are a male over 65 please see your healthcare provider regularly to assess future risk and to treat any current conditions. Have a great men’s health month and Happy Father’s Day!