Things for the Aging Man to Consider

October 2, 2011

This is a guest post by Nan Gibbons.

Everyone ages; it’s an unavoidable fact of life. Though aging is universal, the issues that come with it are varied for individuals and between the sexes. Men have to deal with entirely different changes, particularly when it comes to health. If you’re a man, especially if you’re over 40, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind as you age and obtain regular medical screenings and checkups.

Heart Disease
Encompassing a wide variety of afflictions, heart disease is basically anything that damages the heart’s ability to function properly. Things like arthrosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart attack or cardiac arrest fall under heart disease, with arthrosclerosis being the most prevalent. National guidelines recommend that men begin regular screenings for artherosclerosis at age 35, ten years sooner than women. Recent studies have suggested that estrogen, a hormone found in much higher concentrations in women, helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart problems tend to become more pronounced as you age, but luckily exercise has been shown to increase heart health, even if begun in one’s 60s or 70s. Exercise regularly and eat a heart-healthy diet to dramatically reduce your risk of developing heart problems.

Prostate Health
After the age of 50, many men begin developing prostate problems. This can range from prostate cancer to enlarged prostate. Most prostate issues are not cancer, but men 60 or older have more cancer problems than other age groups and should be cautious. If detected early, prostate cancer has an incredibly high cure rate. Prostate cancer is a very slow growing cancer, so often times men can research treatment options. As for enlarged prostate, there’s no cure, but often the growth can be stopped if treatment is received. An enlarged prostate can cause frequent urination, difficulty urinating and a feeling of incomplete urination, which can lead to urinary tract infections. It usually takes men a long time to talk to their doctor about prostate issues, waiting until their daily routines are disrupted before visiting a health professional. Receiving regular checkups and talking to your doctor about any urinary problems or discomfort can go a long way toward catching prostate problems early on.

Cholesterol
Related to heart disease, yet deserving of its own category, cholesterol control should be a priority in every man’s life, especially if you’re an older man. Though both sexes are at risk for high cholesterol, men tend to begin having problems ten years sooner than women. Produced by the liver, cholesterol can build up in your blood vessels, hardening them and constricting blood flow. This can lead to a host of cardiovascular problems, including atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, increased risk of stroke and circulation problems. Talk to your doctor about developing a healthy diet and exercise program to minimize cholesterol production and buildup.

Weight
Even though women tend to have more body fat than men, the body fat distribution in men tends to be the type that signifies an increased risk of heart disease and other weight-related problems. If you notice that you’re putting on more weight, especially if your waist size is fluctuating, you should schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss potential problems and ways to head them off.

Cancer
In addition to prostate cancer, men need to be on the lookout for other cancers. Because men have a higher overall risk of contracting and dying from cancer, you need to be acutely aware of the risks and talk to your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary with your health. If you’re a smoker, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on your mouth, throat and lungs, receiving regular screenings for any problems there. Also, colorectal cancer screenings should start around age 50 or earlier, if you have a family history.

As you age, you need to be aware of health issues affecting men. If you know what health problems to look out for, receive regular checkups and discuss problems with your doctor, you can drastically reduce the risk of serious health problems down the road.

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