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Men’s Biggest Health Risks

Here are the top five questions men should be asking themselves – and their doctors – when it comes to a longer, healthier life.

“Don’t wait until you get sick to start paying attention to your health,” says family medicine physician Sandra Arango-Fahmy, D.O. “You might assume that a heart attack or cancer is something you only need to worry about when you’re older, but these problems are all too common in younger men. Talk to your doctor, know your risk factors and take steps to prevent disease and keep yourself healthy for decades to come.”

Will I Have a Stroke?
Stroke kills more than 50,000 men each year, according to the American Heart Association. Think only old people are at risk? You’d be wrong. One in 14 stroke victims is under age 45. Strokes don’t just happen spontaneously. They could be stalking you for years.

“The odds of having a stroke seem to spike when men hit their 40’s,” says Dr. Arango-Fahmy. “Risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes. There is also evidence in a new study that single or unhappily married men seem to run a greater risk of dying from a stroke than those with good marriages.”

What If I’m A Smoker?
Nearly 60,000 men died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2006, according to the CDC. This includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Smoking causes 80 percent of COPD deaths. Tobacco use is also linked to other serious men’s health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. “If you’re a smoker, all that matters is that you find a way to quit.  Quitting at any age, no matter how long you have been smoking, has definite health benefits,” says Dr. Arango-Fahmy. “Raritan Bay Medical Center has smoking cessation programs to help you kick the habit for good.”

Am I A Safe Driver?

The third greatest threat to a man’s life is a deadly accident. Car accidents, fires, poison and other unexpected traumas killed almost 80,000 men in 2007, according to the CDC. Automobile accidents
accounted for 37 percent of these deaths. Car crashes can happen to anyone so always take extra precautions behind the wheel. Never drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. If you must use your
cell phone while driving, get a hands-free connection. Pull off the road if you’re having a hard time staying awake, and if getting enough sleep is a problem, see your doctor.  Dr. Arango-Fahmy reminds
us, “For everyone’s safety, the road deserves your undivided attention.”

Am I At Risk of Cancer?

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in men, taking almost 300,000 lives in 2010 according to the American Cancer Society. Lung cancer tops the list, accounting for 29 percent of all cancer deaths, followed by prostate cancer (11 percent), and colon/rectum cancer (9 percent). You may already know the deadly risks of smoking but the factors for these cancers are less obvious.  “Talk with your physician about your personal and family health history and take steps to reduce your odds,” says Dr. Arango-Fahmy.

Will I Have A Heart Attack?

Heart disease is the biggest threat to a man’s life.  More than one in three men have some sort of heart disease and more than 390,000 men died of heart disease related issues in 2007, according to the American Heart Association. Not every heart attack victim is overweight or out of shape. Dr. Arango-Fahmy says, “Family history, stress and other lifestyle factors play an important role in who does – and doesn’t– have heart problems.” A recent study published in Britain’s Lancet found that stressors such as depressison, anger, and anxiety may contribute to heart attacks as much as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Team Up To Beat The Risk
“If we wait until men turn 50,” Dr. Arango-Fahmy concludes, “the risk factors for all of these health issues are already fairly well established and causing problems. Men need to team up with their physicians to develop preventative strategies when they are between the ages of 35 and 45, or even earlier.”

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