Do men suffer from different health issues than women?
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Do men suffer from different health issues than women?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men in the United States, on average, die 5 years earlier than women from three leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries. Maybe you’ve heard this fact before but didn’t know the reasons why. We can point to a few potential causes, but the good news is that, in many cases, making small changes in things like nutrition, exercise and regular screenings can help improve health outcomes.
If you ask a man to make a list of things he least wants to do, going to the doctor is likely near the top. In fact, many men don’t even like talking about their health and some will avoid going to the doctor until their condition is so serious that it can’t be ignored.
It’s important to remember that ignoring what seems like a minor symptom now could allow it to develop into something bigger down the road. And some conditions can have no obvious symptoms until they’ve gotten serious.
For example, the CDC reports that heart disease is the #1 cause of death for men in the United States and that half of men who die of heart disease had no previous symptoms. Two of the major risk factors for developing heart disease are obesity and high blood pressure. And high blood pressure is called the “silent killer,” because it, too, sometimes shows no symptoms. This shows that waiting until you have a symptom to see the doctor is not a foolproof way to stay well.
The top three causes of death are the same. But minority men do tend to have higher rates of heart disease and its risk factors than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. So, prevention and catching problems early are even more important.
CDC data shows that Latino men are about 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic whites and 24 percent more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, a major heart disease threat.
Also, according to the CDC, Black Americans ages 35-64 years are 50% more likely to have high blood pressure than white. And while Black adults are more likely to have high blood pressure, they’re less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have it under control, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. In addition, the American Heart Association notes that racial discrimination can contribute to stress and high blood pressure.
Black and Latino men may also have a hard time getting medical care because of not having insurance or transportation, the cost of medical care or finding a doctor who speaks their language.
Minority men should be aware of their unique risk factors for heart disease (see a list of these a little further down) and be sure to get their annual wellness checkup. This can allow the doctor to find a problem when it’s small, make a plan to treat it and stop it from getting worse in the future. And when you see a doctor each year, it’s easier for them to look at your medical history to look for any changes that may need to be examined.
According to the CDC, the following facts are important for men to know:
Here are some key steps that the CDC recommends:
Florida Blue Centers: Whether you have a Florida Blue plan or not, you can get answers to health questions from one of our Florida Blue Center nurses. Our team can connect you to resources in your community if you need healthy food, help managing a health condition, finding health care and more. Our centers also offer webinars and classes on a variety of health topics to the public, and there’s no fee to attend.
Visit your local center or call 877-352-5830 to speak to a care nurse. Learn more at floridablue.com/center.
It’s great to feel well, but we know that not all health issues have obvious symptoms. So, it’s important to let your doctor do an exam and lab work to make sure everything is on track.
Think of it like car maintenance – we don’t wait until there’s smoke coming out from under the hood. We take the car in for regular oil changes and diagnostics to keep it running smoothly. A primary care doctor can do an exam where they check lab work and ask questions about symptoms and your lifestyle. If they do find an issue, they’ll make a plan to treat it so it doesn’t progress to something serious. And if caught early, the treatment plan may be lifestyle changes you can control instead of medication. You’ve heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Small changes now can help you avoid big impacts later. Knowledge is power – know your risk factors so you can keep them as low as possible.
Those who have health coverage should be sure to make an appointment for a yearly checkup. With individual Affordable Care Act plans, it’s covered at no extra cost.
Those without health coverage can contact a Florida Blue Center for help finding affordable care, like a low- or no-cost clinic or other community resources that may be available. Onsite Nurses can answer health questions. And the Centers host regular health events online and in person that are open to the community. Find an event near you at https://scheduler.floridablue.com/ or call 877-352-5830.
*meQuilibrium is an independent company contracted by Florida Blue to provide health and wellness services and resources to members. This benefit is available to Florida Blue members age 18 and older. Eligibility is limited to members with an individual or family plan, an individual or family ACA plan and members with coverage from their fully insured group employer health plan.
** Florida Blue has entered into an arrangement with Wellframe to provide members with care decision support services, information and other services. All decisions that require or pertain to independent professional medical/clinical judgement or training, or the need for medical services, are solely the member’s responsibility and the responsibility of their physicians and other health care providers. Wellframe is an independent company that provides online services to Florida Blue members through the BlueforMe app.