Fifty is a milestone birthday--and not just because of your age. Your health and your body feel very differently at 50 than when you were 30, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Many men, of all ages, see themselves as being invincible and turning 50 is a wake-up call for many of them to start taking better care of themselves.
There are a wide variety of health concerns for men over 50, and in honor of June being Men’s Health Month, we’re examining some of the most pressing concerns.
Top 5 Health Concerns For Men Over 50
While cardiovascular disease and heart health are not exclusively problems for men, the Centers for Disease Control reports that men accounted for more than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009. They also report that heart disease is the “leading cause of death for men in the United States,” making it one of the most important older men’s health issues today.
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a common health concern for men over 50. Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis are types of COPD, along with asthma in certain cases. Often caused by smoking cigarettes, COPD is characterized by damage to lung tissue and an inability for the body to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. According to the CDC, more than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD and has typically been associated as being more of a “male problem.”
The CDC also reports that “men are more likely than women to drink excessively,” or binge drink, which significantly increases the short-term risks to their health and safety. Roughly 23 percent of men had reported binge drinking five times per month, averaging 8 drinks per binge, which is especially troubling considering that “men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths” than women. Alcohol also increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the mouth, liver, esophagus, throat and colon.
Over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with Diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Type 2 diabetes is more common among the older population, which makes diabetes one of the major health concerns for men over 50. People living with diabetes are more likely to experience a wide variety of health complications, but for men specifically, the disease can lower testosterone levels and lead to sexual impotence and depression.
Prostate cancer is, unfortunately, a male-only issue, and the risk increases with age. The prostate is located below the bladder and above the rectum, and while it is typically the size of a walnut, it can grow in size as a man ages and eventually stop the flow of urine (although sometimes there are no symptoms present at all). The CDC has determined that “aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States.”
There are preventative measures you can take, however, to help keep your overall health in tip-top shape, including making certain lifestyle changes:
Go To The Doctor For Regular Check Ups and Exams. Maintaining good health as you age means allowing yourself to have access to preventative medicine. Health concerns for men over 50 increase every year, so having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly can help reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke later on down the line. You can also have regular blood work done to check your blood sugar levels to see if you are pre-diabetic. Early intervention can also help keep diabetes at bay, longer. And, don’t pass up the opportunity to have regular colonoscopies and prostate exams--the discovery of a problem can often be managed if it’s caught early.
Change Your Diet. Cutting high-sodium foods out of your diet and limiting your intake of red meat and cholesterol-laden foods can have a big impact. A heart-healthy diet can greatly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and making specific changes to your diet if you are diabetic can have a positive effect on managing your diabetes.
Stop Smoking. Research from the American Heart Association has found that cigarette smoking “increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.” Not to mention that smoking tobacco is the leading cause of COPD worldwide.
Drink More Water. While soda and other beverages might taste better than water, studies have suggested that men who drink soda are at a greater risk for developing prostate cancer and diabetes. Limiting your intake of sugary beverages will have a positive effect on both your waistline and your health.
Exercise More. Physical activity literally gets the blood pumping and strengthens your heart, especially when you are participating in an aerobic activity. And that doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner--you can walk, go for a bike ride or even swim!
Minimize Your Drinking Habits. There’s a difference between having an occasional glass of wine or beer with dinner and binging on alcohol on a regular basis. Try to be aware of how much you are drinking in one sitting and how often. If you feel as though you have a problem that is out of your control, talk to your physician about the right course of action to take.
The Bottom Line: Don’t take chances with your health! If you’re a man over 50 who is at risk for cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, invest in a medical alert device today.