Genetic, environment issues cause men to die earlier than women | CraigDailyPress.com

Genetic, environment issues cause men to die earlier than women

A sky blue ribbon helps raise awareness of prostate cancer.

CRAIG — On average, men die about six years younger than women in the United States, the result of both genetic and environmental health issues, according to a Memorial Regional Health specialist.

"They are prone to develop ischemic heart disease at an age a full 10 years earlier than women do. Men smoke more, although women are rapidly closing the gap. They are also exposed to more industrial pollutants, and I suspect that they work in more dangerous professions," said Dr. Gerald Myers, Doctor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine at MRH.

Many men need to pay more attention to their health, because often, causes of premature death can be prevented or treated with early diagnosis.

The leading causes of death in men include heart disease, cancer and accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, diabetes, suicide, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease, according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevent.

Knowing what signs and symptoms to look for and getting regular checkups can help men to live healthier, longer lives.

Regular checkups provide a way to identify or prevent problems before they become serious.

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Between routine exams, Myers advises men to see their physician for any of the following symptoms.
• chest pressure.
• shortness of breath when at rest, with exertion or when lying down at night.
• a "productive" cough.
• blood in urine, stool or sputum.
• difficult or painful voiding
• sudden, severe headaches
• unexplained weight loss
• unexplained swelling, lightheadedness, fainting, unilateral weakness, and/or difficulty with speech.

"These are just a few that come to mind," he said.

Man Therapy was created to help working-age men, as well as their loved ones, facing a potential crisis. The program, available at mantherapy.org, uses humor to help men examine their own mental health and take a variety of actions that will put them on the path to treatment and recovery.

Since its launch in 2012, Man Therapy has helped more than 800,000 visitors from all over the world, according to the group’s website.

Though somewhat limited, resources are also available locally to address male-specific physical conditions.

"Most of the male-specific specialties are available on a limited basis by consultants who hold clinics here once or twice a month, including urologists, neurologists, oncologists, ENT, dermatology and neurosurgery," Myers said. "I provide diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and, to a lesser extent, function as an internist. We have two full-time orthopedic physicians on staff at the clinic."

Get it checked

The Men’s Health Network is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys and their families where they live, work, play and pray with health awareness and disease prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities and patient navigation.

The networks recommends that every man perform regular health maintenance with the following 15 checkups.

Physical health: Review overall health status, perform a thorough physical exam, and discuss health-related topics.

Blood pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, has no symptoms, but can cause permanent damage to body organs.

TB skin test: Should be performed on occasion of exposure or suggestive symptoms at the direction of a physician. Some occupations may require more frequent testing for public health indications.

Blood tests and urinalysis: Screens for various illnesses and diseases, such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney or thyroid dysfunction, before symptoms occur.

EKG: Electrocardiogram screens for heart abnormalities.

Tetanus booster: Prevents lockjaw.

Rectal exam: Screens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems, colon and prostate cancer.

PSA blood test: Prostate Specific Antigen is produced by the prostate, and levels rise when there is an abnormality, such as an infection, enlargement or cancer. Testing should be done in collaboration with a physician.

Hemoccult: Screens the stool for microscopic amounts of blood that can be the first indication of polyps or colon cancer.

Colorectal health: A flexible scope examines the rectum, sigmoid and descending colon for cancer at its earliest and treatable stages. It also detects polyps, benign growths that can progress to cancer if not detected early.

Chest X-ray: Should be considered in smokers older than age 45. The usefulness of this test on a yearly basis is debatable, due to poor cure rates of lung cancer.

Bone health: Bone mineral density test. Testing is best done under the supervision of a physician.

Self exams: Testicles, to find lumps in their earliest stages; skin, to look for signs of changing moles, freckles or early skin cancer; oral, to look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth; breast, to find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages.

Testosterone screening: Low testosterone symptoms include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and depression. Initial screening for symptoms includes a questionnaire, followed by a blood test.

Sexually transmitted diseases: Sexually active adults who consider themselves at risk for STDs should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV and other STDs.

The frequency of each checkup depends on age and other genetic or health conditions.

For a complete checklist, visit menshealthnetwork.org/Library/getitcheckedpostermen.pdf