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COLUMN: Men should alter their lifestyle to stay healthy, longer

Dr. Susan Blatt, Oneida County Health Department
Posted 10/17/22

It’s a fact that American women live longer time than men. Life expectancy, which is how long one should expect to live, is 75 in men and 80 in women.

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COLUMN: Men should alter their lifestyle to stay healthy, longer

Posted

It’s a fact that American women live longer time than men.

Life expectancy, which is how long one should expect to live, is 75 in men and 80 in women. The difference is hard to understand and may be due to several factors. Women have estrogen, which may alter many functions to make them healthier. Men have fought in wars and done heavy jobs for many generations, and that may be a factor. Still, there are some ways men can alter their lifestyle to be healthier.

We all know that older adults should see a primary care doctor once a year. Women have cooperated because of annual visits to the obstetrician. At some point most women find a clinic with a family practice doctor or nurse practitioner to keep an eye on their care. As women age and need mammograms, colonoscopies, or treatment for diabetes, heart care, or other medical problems, the primary care provider will be there to guide them and to keep track of their health.

Men have less need to see a doctor when they are young. Since they have not established the habit of annual visits in their 20s and 30s, they are likely to go to emergency rooms or specialists, without the overall guidance of a family doctor.

Men have a tendency to ignore routine health care needs and many men avoid healthy habits. Men need to get their weight down in the normal range, walk two miles a day, cut their alcohol intake to two drinks a day or give up alcohol. Men and women should not drive after drinking alcohol, and they should not smoke.

A man who does not have a primary care provider, should establish one. That doctor or nurse practitioner should be seen yearly. For many of us, high blood pressure has become a problem. The provider may want to repeat it once or twice, but very likely blood pressure medication should be started. That means taking medicine for a lifetime.

After getting routine blood tests, elevation of cholesterol may be noted, and a second medication may be added for that. If the man is overweight, diabetes is a possibility and further treatment will be needed. All of this may be uncomfortable to men who often resist taking medicine, but it may lengthen one’s lifetime to get this kind of preventive care.

Men may need tests for prostate problems and a colonoscopy every few years. Men have more heart problems than women, so they should talk about any problems like shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or chest pain with their doctor. Lung problems should be checked for in patients who smoke or smoked in the past. Exercise is a necessity for older men who have retired from working. Walking in the neighborhood is the most practical way to do that. Map out a trip that represents two miles and make sure you walk that far every day. Your cell phone can keep track of the mileage.

This attention to one’s health is a necessity if we expect to live a long and healthy life. It is a shame that, in general, men live a shorter life than women. It is very important to find a primary provider and see that person at least once a year.

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