According to the Men’s Health Network, men are less healthy and have shorter life expectancies than women. June is Men’s Health Month and the perfect time to discuss how men can help beat the odds by taking better care of themselves and taking charge of their own health.
In the U.S., men live about five years less than women. Experts say this is partly because men are more likely to go longer without seeing a doctor and they’re less likely to practice preventive health measures. Millennium Physician Group Family Medicine Physician Andres Santayana, MD, has important advice for men to get – and stay – healthier.
“For men, if you are healthy, feel healthy, and are doing well it’s still important to at least see your physician once a year minimum for your physical,” he advises. “There are certain ages where we like to get some baseline labs screened for different things.”
Specifically, men tend to have higher incidences of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
“Men tend to have a higher both morbidity of having these conditions as well as a higher mortality from them and starting at an earlier age in life,” says Dr. Santayana.
Two-thirds of American men say they avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible. And about 30% report having no personal doctor or healthcare provider. Dr. Santayana explains this can be a dangerous decision.
“You might have a family history of some things that we need to keep an eye out for. So really seeing your primary, getting your physicals done and kind of sharing your history and family history with your physician as well. Having a primary-care physician’s important for various reasons, not only access to healthcare, you don’t have to worry about ERs and urgent care, but being able to have them play a part in your health, long term. And then down the line, if you do develop any chronic illnesses your primary-care doctor will already be there to help you manage it and maintain a healthy life.”
A survey by the Cleveland Clinic found that more than half of men said their health wasn’t something they talk about. Dr. Santayana encourages all men to take an active approach to their own health.
“While men might be at higher risk of developing some of these conditions, it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer from it,” he says. “Early screening, having your primary-care doctor, something as easy as a blood test to tell you if you’re at higher risk and you can make those changes, lifestyle modifications, just to keep yourself healthy and prevent you from having those complications.