Eubie Blake once said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." How true that is for most of us. It seems to be especially true of older men, who once were so busy working and playing hard that the thought of getting medical advice, or even of doing things in moderation, was never on their radar screen.
According to the Hope Heart Institute, we know the following things about men's health:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men.
The three biggest cancer killers of men in the U.S. over age 55 are:
1.) Lung cancer.
2.) Prostate cancer.
3.) Colorectal cancer.
Prevention and early detection are still the best ways of beating these formidable opponents, according to the National Institute of Health. Many of the prevention strategies are the same for all of these diseases. They include, but are certainly not limited to:
Don't smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
Keep a healthy weight.
Eat less red and/or processed meats.
Eat less fat. Only about 1/3 of your daily calories should come from fat.
Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Exercise about 30 minutes most days of the week.
Learn how to manage stress.
For heart disease prevention, you should also keep your blood pressure below 120/80 and make sure you get it checked at least every two years. Men also need to have their cholesterol levels checked and keep their levels within the guidelines for their particular circumstances. Most men should have a total cholesterol level below 200 and their HDL (good cholesterol) should be a minimum of 40. Men who have a history of heart disease in their families, or who have experienced a cardiac problem, will need to keep within even stricter parameters.
Cancer prevention and early intervention also are crucial to men's health and longevity. Both men and women need to have a personal physician and regular checkups as we grow older. In addition to the general guidelines above, men also need to ask their doctors when they should start being checked for prostate and colorectal cancer. This is especially true if there is any history of these conditions in the family.
It is important for men to take charge of their health. Remember that you are the boss. Your doctor works for you. Find a physician who really listens to you. Take a list of questions to every medical exam and make sure you have them answered before you leave. Ask for copies of lab tests for your home medical file. Learn all you can about any medical conditions that your doctor has identified for you.
For more information on men's health, contact your health care provider or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-112.
For more information, e-mail HealthLink at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit its website at www.nlh.org, or visit its wellness center at 213 Harrison St. Ext. in Johnstown, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.