More boys than girls are born every year in the U.S. But any lead in health
men start with vanishes with the first dirty diaper.
From infancy to old age, women are simply healthier than men. Out of the 15
leading causes of death, men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer's disease, which many
men don't live long enough to develop. Although the gender gap is closing, men
still die five years earlier than their wives, on average.
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While the reasons are partly biological, men's approach to their health
plays a role too, experts tell WebMD.
"Men put their health last," says Demetrius Porche, DNS, RN, editor in chief
of the American Journal of Men's Health. "Most men's thinking is, if
they can live up to their roles in society, then they're healthy."
Men go to the doctor less than women and are more likely to have a serious
condition when they do go, research shows. "As long as they're working and
feeling productive, most men aren't considering the risks to their health,"
But even if you're feeling healthy, a little planning can help you stay that
way. The top threats to men's health aren't secrets: they're known, common, and
often preventable. WebMD consulted the experts to bring you this list of the
top health threats to men, and how to avoid them.
Cardiovascular Disease: The Leading Men's Health Threat
They call it atherosclerosis, meaning
"hardening of the arteries." But it could as easily be from the Latin for "a
man's worst enemy."
"Heart disease and stroke are the first and second leading causes of death
worldwide, in both men and women," says Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, director
of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC. "It's a huge global
public health problem, and in the U.S. we have some of the highest rates."
In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries
in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms,
blocking the artery and causing a heart attack or stroke.
One in five men and women will die from cardiovascular disease, according to
Labarthe. For unclear reasons, though, men's arteries develop atherosclerosis
earlier than women's. "Men's average age for death from cardiovascular disease
is under 65," he says; women catch up about six years later.
Even in adolescence, girls' arteries look healthier than boys'. Experts
believe women's naturally higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) are partly
responsible. Men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and
Get your cholesterol checked, beginning at age 25 and every five
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they're high.
"There's a saying that 'children should know their grandparents,'" says
Labarthe. "This is fatal or disabling condition that causes lost family time
and working time. But a large number of these events are preventable."