It’s Men’s Health Month

A look at the top health threats that face men, prevention tips and how to get additional help.

Feature Story
Smiling African American man and woman embracing

As we celebrate Men’s Health Month, it’s important to stay aware of the most pressing health problems the men close to you may face, and to encourage early detection of these problems.

Cardiovascular disease

In the United States, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men. Approximately 50 percent of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Shockingly, high cholesterol and high blood pressure often have no symptoms.

Man with his young daughter, holding up a soccer ball, on his shouldersAccording to Columbus Batiste, MD, a cardiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, “Just because you feel fine, that doesn’t mean you have a clean bill of health. Studies have shown that heart disease can begin before the age of 10, so the earlier we adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle centered around a plant-predominant diet, the lower our risk for developing a heart attack or stroke.”

Leading a more heart-healthy lifestyle can be the difference between life and death. Partner with your doctor and care team to pull together a treatment plan that is centered around a plant-predominant diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction. Your doctor is key to finding the right level of medications or even eliminating your need for medications as your healthy lifestyle efforts increase.  

Depression  

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women, making it the seventh leading cause of death for males. While both men and women experience depression, men are less likely to recognize, talk about and seek treatment for depression.

“Often, men feel like they’re weak or less masculine when they admit they’re depressed, when in fact it requires real strength to be able to say, ‘I am not doing well and I need some help,’” said Bridget S. Wilcox, PsyD, director of clinical outcomes for Regional Behavioral Health Care, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “It’s best to seek out counseling, reach out for social support, and let your physician know how you’re feeling. With proper treatment, recovery is absolutely possible.”

Talk to your doctor about depression. If a depression diagnosis is made, seek treatment immediately. Check your symptoms with our short self-assessment at kp.org to find out if you might be depressed.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially critical sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. Men are twice as likely to have this condition. While many men don’t think of snoring as a sign of something serious, it’s usually the most prominent symptom.

“Sleep apnea raises your risk for other health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. It can also contribute to mental health issues, weight gain and even vehicular or workplace accidents, due to chronic fatigue,” said Juan Carlos Zuberbuhler, MD, psychiatrist, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles.

Talk to your doctor and ask if you need a sleep study. Also, find out what treatment options are available. A well-rested partner is also a happier one. To learn more about the importance of sleep, view this video.

Cancer

Three young men in casual dress, walking outdoorsThe three leading causes of death from cancer in men are lung, prostate and colorectal cancer. While there are certain risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood of developing cancer that cannot be changed – age, gender, genetics – a substantial amount of cancers can be due to a poor diet, lifestyle and environmental factors.

“Research shows that half of cancer deaths could be prevented by simply following a healthy lifestyle,” said Michael Tomé, MD, radiation oncologist, area medical director, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. “If you avoid exposure to known cancer-causing substances, like nicotine and alcohol, sleep well, eat right, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight, you can greatly reduce your risk for developing cancer.”

Early detection of cancer is also vital and key to fighting the disease. Talk with your doctor about screening guidelines, preventive care and managing your emotional wellness. Depending on your personal health history, family health history, or screening results, your doctor will recommend an individualized screening schedule.