FORT LEE, Va. - In recognition of national Men’s Health Month, Kenner Army Health Clinic has joined an information campaign to raise awareness of preventable diseases and illnesses, and promote early detection and treatment among males in the Fort Lee community.
Dr. Prabha U. Gupta, an Internal Medicine physician at the clinic, said it’s important for men to consider the most common ailments affecting them and the preventative measures they should practice.
Men typically are less healthy than women. In the eight-out-of-10 leading causes of death in the United States, the mortality is higher for males, according to a Harvard Medical School study. These include the top three causes of death for both sexes – heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Moreover, men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year; are 22 percent more likely to have neglected their cholesterol tests; and 28 percent more likely to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure. Factors that put men at higher risk may include unsafe activities, aggression, alcohol and substance abuse, diet, lack of social networks, and lack of routine medical care, according to the report.
“Little more needs to be said about why it’s important to take immediate steps toward a healthier you,” said Gupta. “Have a discussion with your primary care provider to see what you can do to optimize your health outcomes rather than wait for a diagnosis of a serious medical issue or disease that may be untreatable at that point.”
The Army Medical Department has transformed from a health care system focused on reacting to disease and injury to a system for health, focused on prevention. One example of this philosophy is The Performance Triad, which captures three essential categories of preventive needs – activity, nutrition and sleep.
Healthier lifestyle options men should practice include the following:
• Keep track of weight, activity, calories and sleep; challenge yourself to achieve fitness-promoting goals.
• With daily meals, shoot for at least eight servings of fruits or vegetables to help prevent diseases like stroke, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and possible heart disease.
• Maintain a healthy weight and body mass index, or at least make sure the waist measures no more than 40 inches. Having a BMI over 25 classifies as being overweight, and more than 30 is considered obese. This puts men at an increased risk for diabetes, high-blood pressure, stroke and other problems.
• Get enough exercise – 10,000 steps per day and 30-minute workout sessions at least five days a week are recommended. Include a variety of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e. brisk walking) and muscle-strengthening activities (two or more days a week). The benefits include controlling weight, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, as well as preventing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Exercising regularly strengthens bones and muscles, improves mental health and mood, and the ability to do daily activities. It increases the chances of living longer.
• Sleep 7-8 hours a night and maintain a consistent routine.
Individuals also should keep up with recommended health evaluations, including the following:
• Cholesterol: Once a man turns 35 (or as early as age 20 if he has risk factors like diabetes, a family history of heart disease, tobacco use, high-blood pressure or a BMI of 30 or over), cholesterol should be checked regularly. High-blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
• Blood pressure: Have it checked every two years.
• Cardiovascular disease: Between the ages of 45-79, men should ask their doctor if they should take aspirin every day to help lower the risk of a heart attack.
• Colorectal cancer: Beginning at age 50 and through age 75, get tested for colorectal cancer.
• Other cancers: Ask your doctor if you should be tested for prostate, lung, oral, skin, testicular or other cancers.
• Sexually transmitted diseases: Talk to a doctor to see whether it is necessary to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
• Depression: Those who feel “down” or have little interest in doing things they usually enjoy should talk to their doctor about depression.
• Abdominal aortic aneurysm: If between 65-75 and you have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in a lifetime, ask to be screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
• Diabetes: If blood pressure is higher than 135/80, have a doctor test for diabetes.
The Kenner staff has created a display of men’s health information and services available at the clinic or through local network partners. It will be available through the end of the month in the pharmacy waiting area.