SARASOTA, Fla. (July 29, 2013) – Across the industrialized world, women live 5-10 years longer than men. In the United States, average life expectancy is just over 80 for women and just over 75 for men.
While genetics do play a role, experts say that more than half, and up to 70 percent of the differences in life expectancy, are more likely due to environmental factors – behaviors and exposures.
“Most of us should be able to get into our late 80s, but in general, there are several things men do worse than women,” said Internal Medicine Specialist Jack Rodman, MD, who serves as Chief Medical Administrative Officer for Sarasota Memorial's First Physicians Group. “They smoke more (though that gap is shrinking). They eat more foods that lead to high cholesterol. And they are more prone to internalizing their stress rather than letting go, which plays a very important role in cardiovascular disease.”
In the 55- to 64-year-old range, more men than women die, due mainly to heart disease, suicide, car accidents, and illnesses related to smoking and alcohol use, he said. Heart disease kills five of every 1,000 men in this age group.
Regular screenings can help keep men healthy by detecting serious illnesses in their early stages, allowing for a broader range of treatment options. Below are some important health screenings that Dr. Rodman urges men to discuss with their doctors.
Important Screenings for Men
- Blood Pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, can cause heart attacks, strokes, or kidney and eye problems. The National Institutes of Health recommends blood pressure screenings every two years for men age 18 and older, and yearly for men with a history of high blood pressure.
- Cholesterol: High cholesterol puts men at risk for heart attacks and heart disease, the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A cholesterol screening is recommended every five years for men age 35 and older. Men who use tobacco, are obese, or have a personal or family history of heart-related illnesses should start checking their cholesterol at age 20.
- Diabetes: Nearly one third of people with diabetes don’t know they have it, according to the NIH. Untreated, diabetes can increase the risk of kidney failure, heart disease, nervous system damage and other serious health problems. Ethnicity, a family history of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol can increase a man’s risk of developing diabetes. Tests should be done once every three years, or more often if your doctor recommends it.
- Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the United States and a leading cause of cancer death in men. But prostate screening remains controversial. Many health organizations worldwide do not recommend routine testing, but rather an individualized approach based on shared decision making. Starting at age 50 (or earlier if you are high risk), men should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of screening as many cancers detected by screening are considered "overdiagnosed," meaning they never would have caused problems during a man's lifetime.
About First Physicians Group of Sarasota
Backed by the tradition and strength of the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, First Physicians Group of Sarasota is made up of nearly 100 physicians and clinicians who provide primary and specialty care in more than a dozen practices throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. All of the physicians have been carefully selected with education and experience from some of the best academic medical centers in the nation. They are all Board Certified and specialize in Dermatology, Family Practice, Gynecology, Gynecology/Oncology, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Perinatology, Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery, and Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.
About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s largest, safest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care clinics and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers, to home health and skilled nursing & rehabilitation.