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Men's Top 5 Health Concerns

Men die at higher rates than women for all of the top 10 causes of death. Why don't men take better care of their health?

Heart Disease

Although heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, almost twice as many males die of conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, the MHN reports.

According to the CDC, one in four men has some form of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death.

Average annual rates of the first heart disease complication rises from seven per 1,000 men at ages 35-44 to 68 per 1,000 at ages 85-94. For women, similar rates occur but they happen about 10 years later in life. The average age of a person having a first heart attack is 65.8 for men and 70.4 for women.

"For men, heart disease begins to manifest itself about 10 years earlier than women," says Gregory Burke, MD, professor and chairman of the department of public health sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

This does not mean men have a free pass against heart disease until they're older. Men have a shorter time to prevent the development of the condition so their overall risk is greater.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Increasing age
  • Male sex
  • Family history and race.Folks with family history of the disease have greater risk. So do African-Americans, Mexican Americans,
  • Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans.
  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Diabetes

Some things, such as your age and sex, obviously cannot be controlled, but modifying lifestyle to eat right and exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, says Burke.

Stroke

Stroke is the third leading killer in the country, after heart disease and all forms of cancer. The incidence rate of stroke is 1.25 times greater in men than in women, although there is really no difference between the sexes as people get older, according to the American Stroke Association.

"We know that a very important risk factor for stroke is hypertension. The control of hypertension is a crucial factor to try to prevent the onset of stroke," says Burke.

Other risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Race. African-Americans have the greater risk than whites.
  • Gender. Stroke is more common in men than in women until age 75.
  • Personal history of stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA, or ministroke)
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking, including secondhand smoke
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol and substance abuse

In many ways, behaviors that can reduce the risk of stroke mirror those that can reduce risk of heart disease. "We need to recognize that a healthy lifestyle -- dietary factors and exercise -- reduces the risk of people getting hypertension at all," says Burke.

"It happens more commonly in the older folks, but it should never be viewed as inevitable, even in people with a family history of the disease," says Burke.

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