Men's Health 101

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Deaths: Final Data for 2006" [PDF | 1.71MB], the estimated life expectancy at birth for the total population reached a record high of 77.7 years. This represents an increase of 0.3 years relative to 2005. Although women live longer than men, the gap between male and female life expectancy grew from 5.0 years in 2005, to 5.1 years in 2006. Men have a life expectancy of 75.1 versus 80.2 years for women.

All men saw an improvement in life expectancy. African American men can expect to live approximately 6.0 years less than White men - 69.7 years versus 75.7 years. This is an increase of 0.4 years in 2006 for Black men. From 2005 to 2006, death rates for American Indian/Native American men decreased by 4.6 percent. Similarly, death rates for Asians/Pacific Islander males decreased by 3.4 percent, and decreased by 5.8 percent for Hispanic males.

According to "Health, United States, 2009," men die from heart disease and chronic liver disease at nearly twice the rate of women. Suicide and violence-related deaths are four times as likely among men.

In 2006, the death rate for suicide among young American Indian males, 15-24 years of age, was almost two times higher than their White male counterparts. In 2006, age-adjusted death rates for stroke for Asian males, ages 55-64 years, were about 19 percent higher than for White males of that age range.

Men Frequently Ignore Symptoms and Are Reluctant to Seek Care Until There Is a Crisis

"Health, United States, 2009," reports that men from ages 18-44 years were 70 percent less likely to visit a physician in 2007. The report also indicates that men were 80 percent less likely to have a usual source of health care, as compared to women.

Also in 2007, CDC surveys show that there were 351 physician or hospital visits per 100 males, as compared to 452 visits per 100 females.

Access to Care Is a Significant Factor for Minority Men

According to the 2008 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports, Hispanic and Black men were less likely than White men to see a physician. This report shows that both Black and Hispanic men were about 10 percent less likely to have a usual primary care provider, as compared to the White population.

In 2005, all men were 30 percent more likely to be uninsured for the previous year, as compared to women. Within that group, African American men were 75 percent more likely to be uninsured than White men, and Hispanic men were almost three times more likely to be without health insurance.

Recommended Health Screenings for Men

Blood Cholesterol Screenings
Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 35. If you are younger than 35, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family.

Blood Pressure
Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.

Colorectal Cancer Tests
Regular screening for colorectal cancer begins at age 50, unless earlier screenings are recommended based on family history, medical history and lifestyle. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. How often you need to be tested will depend on which test you have.

Diabetes Tests
Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

If you've felt "down," sad, or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for depression.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, caused by viruses, such as HIV and Herpes.

Prostate Cancer Screening
Talk to your doctor about the possible benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening if you are considering having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in which blood is drawn or digital rectal examination (DRE).

(Source: Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age-Checklist for Your Next Checkup, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

For more information on men's health:
2008 National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) - Men's Health
Centers for Disease Control - Men's Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Health United States, 2009
National Center for Health Statistics
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Women's Health Information Center

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