Men’s Health: Know Your Numbers

On average, women live longer than men and researchers estimate that the gap in longevity will continue.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women’s life expectancy is projected to reach 87.3 years by 2060, compared with 83.9 years for men.

There are a few factors while the mortality rate for men is higher, but overall, men are less healthy than women and they tend not to take care of themselves as well as their female counterparts.  Compared to women, men are more likely to:

– Smoke

– Drink too much alcohol

– Make unhealthy or risky choices

– Not see their primary care provider for an annual checkup or seek medical care

In recognition of Men’s Health, we have outlined five important numbers all men need to know to live their healthiest lives.  If your numbers are too high or low, your primary care provider can suggest how you can get them in a healthier range.  Be sure to ask your physician what tests you need and how often you need them.

– Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is a common and dangerous condition and can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.  Blood pressure is measured using two numbers.  The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.  The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.  Blood pressure less than 120/80 mmHg is normal and blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or more is too high.

– Blood Sugar/Glucose – Glucose is the main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy.  High glucose levels can indicate diabetes.  Blood tests are the gold standard for measuring glucose levels to screen for diabetes.  Men ages 20–39 should be screened every three years, men ages 40–49 should be screened every two years, and men over 50 should be screened annually.

– Body Mass Index (BMI) – BMI is a person’s weight in pounds (lbs.) divided by height in inches (ins.) squared multiplied by a conversion factor of 703.  BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, but it does not diagnose the health of an individual.  The health consequences of obesity in adults can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and more.  To make calculating your BMI easier, use the CDC’s calculator.

– Cholesterol – Cholesterol is made by your body and used to do important things, like make hormones and digest fatty foods.  When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up on your artery walls, which puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.  There are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol, a blood test is the only way to detect whether your levels are within a healthy range or not.  Men ages 20–39 should be screened every three years, men ages 40–49 should be screened every two years, and men over 50 should be screened annually.

– Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) – PSA is a substance made by the prostate and, as a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present.  Because many factors can affect PSA levels, like medications and infections, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results.  If the PSA test is abnormal, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to find out if you have prostate cancer.