Calling all Men! | Men's Health Month

Monday, June 15, 2020
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June is Men’s Health Month with the week before Father’s Day set aside as Men’s Health Week. It is an opportunity for men to take care of themselves. Men die more frequently than women from nine of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. of those most common causes, men die almost 25% of the time from cardiovascular disease and 22% of the time from cancer. The second leading cause of death in all men is cancer at 22%. Men are much less likely to go to the doctor for annual visits than women. Those visits are key to identifying and minimizing risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and obesity. Take the opportunity this month to consider your health or that of your son, husband or father. Here, we consider hypertension as it is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 
   
Hypertension can be silent. Men may not know they are carrying the risk. Men will say they feel fine, and there is no need to see a doctor. Often, men are waiting for a symptom to prompt them to seek care. This can lead to carrying unchecked risk for cardiovascular for years. The effects of hypertension over time can lead to changes in the heart muscle, vessel damage, kidney injury and several other complications. Seeing a physician and addressing hypertension early will help to avoid poor outcomes.
 
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHG. Anything above that, when measured appropriately, is elevated blood pressure with stage 1 hypertension beginning at >130/80 mmHG. Men and women should check their blood pressure periodically on their own or go see their physician. Blood pressure is a variable and only needs to be acted on when measurements are taken properly. To get a valid reading a patient should be sitting, at rest for a few minutes, have a properly fitting blood pressure cuff and not be under the effects of caffeine/stress/pain. Your physician does value measurements taken at home. “White coat” hypertension, blood pressure elevated in the clinic but not at home, is seen in some patients. It is important to see a physician if pressures are found to be >120/80 consistently.
 
We treat hypertension in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. That risk can be drastically reduced in many patients. Initial treatment can be to change a diet or to increase exercise. Eating more fruit and vegetables and cutting back on meats, sweets and snacks works for prevention and can help with treatment. Limiting sodium intake and alcohol consumption helps as well. There is no one exercise program that is appropriate for all men, but in general, patients should try to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Medications are also used to good effect. Good communication between men and their physicians should allow for a regimen of diet, exercise or medications that are effective and well tolerated.
 
Men, this is your month. Call today and schedule an appointment for an annual physical. A physical allows your physician to address your risks for a variety of diseases and underlying conditions. Remember, you may have hypertension, hyperlipidemia or diabetes and not know. You can be asymptomatic, or your symptoms can develop so slowly over time that you don’t realize they’re abnormal. Use Men’s Health Month as your prompt. Take care of yourself.
 
Dr. Jason Harrison is a Internal Medicine physician with Diagnostic and Medical Clinic. Diagnostic and Medical Clinic is the state's largest private multi-speciality clinic with more than 80 physicians covering a broad range of specialities. Learn more about Diagnostic and Medical Clinic at diagnosticandmedical.com or call 251-435-1200 to schedule an appointment.