The life expectancy gap between men and women grew from 1 year in 1920 to 5 years in 2010; men have higher percentages of dying from the leading causes of death, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and injuries.
Many possible reasons drive these health gaps. Compared with women:
- Men are 24% less likely to have visited a doctor within the past year.
- Men are 22% more likely to have neglected their cholesterol tests.
- Men are 28% more likely to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
- Men are 32% more likely to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes.
- Men are at twice the risk for a leg or foot amputation from complications related to diabetes.
- Men are 24% more likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia that could have been prevented by getting an immunization.
In addition, in 2007, the preventive care visit rate for women (82.9 visits per 100 persons) was significantly higher than the rate for men (46.8 visits per 100 persons).
Men need to take action to improve their general health both through maintaining a healthy lifestyle and receiving recommended health checks and screenings.
- Be physically active and make healthy food choices.
- Get to a healthy weight and stay there. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities.
- Be tobacco free.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
Attend regular checkups with your doctor and discuss all the screening tests that you might need and your best options for prevention and treatment.
- Once you turn 35 (or once you turn 20 if you have risk factors such as diabetes, history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure, or BMI of 30 or over), have your cholesterol checked regularly.
- Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years.
- Beginning at age 45 and through age 79, ask your doctor if you should take aspirin every day to help lower your risk of a heart attack.
- Beginning at age 50 and through age 75, get tested for colorectal cancer.
- Ask your doctor if you should be tested for prostate, lung, oral, skin, or other cancers.
- If you have felt "down" or hopeless during the past 2 weeks or you have had little interest in doing things you usually enjoy, talk to your doctor about depression.
- If your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes.
Take action this month! Schedule a checkup, take an afternoon walk, and try a new healthy recipe. Take steps to enjoy a healthy life!