If you’re a guy who heads to the doctor only when a major issue pops up, you’re not alone.
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.
With the subject now top of mind, it may be helpful to consider five things that commonly affect men’s health:
1. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., accounting for about 1 in 4 deaths. Heart disease includes a range of conditions that affect your heart, such as coronary artery disease. Even without symptoms, you can still be at risk.
- Action step: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, along with age, family history and some lifestyle choices. Know your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level.
2. 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 common in men include lung, colorectal, prostate 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 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 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.
- Take action: Learn the signs of depression, in case they pop up for you. If you feel like symptoms are affecting your daily activities, consider discussing them with a doctor or mental health professional.
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.
For more information about preventive health tips for men, visit uhc.com.