As men age into their 40s, they become at an increased risk for many serious health conditions. Maintaining a strong, healthy body in these years may seem like a battle. The most effective weapon and first step to combat these health risks is information. Having information and awareness about how to prevent illness and promote wellness is vital — many illnesses and diseases have controllable risk factors that can be mitigated by a healthy lifestyle.
Men in their 40s can reduce these health threats by making healthier lifestyle choices:
- Don’t smoke
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get moving
- Limit alcohol
- Manage stress
The following are the top 10 health risks that men should be on alert for in their 40s:
1. Cardiovascular Disease. Cardiovascular disease — also called heart disease and coronary artery disease — is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 39 seconds, according to the American Heart Association (ACA). Cardiovascular disease is a term that describes several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke.
The ACA offers a tool for assessing heart attack risk – Professional Risk Calculator
2. High Cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Eliminating as many of the risk factors as possible will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level.
To keep cholesterol levels in safe range, the ACA suggests:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- 150 minutes a week moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
- Two days per week of muscle strengthening activities
- Avoiding tobacco smoke
3. High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because many people don’t realize they have it. High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. Much like high cholesterol, it’s a controllable risk factor.
The AHA lists eight main ways to control blood pressure:
- Eat healthy, reduce salt
- Healthy weight
- Manage Stress
- Avoid tobacco smoke
- Limit alcohol
- Understand hot tub safety
3. Colorectal Cancer. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates are increasing in the under 50 population. Individuals under 50 who have symptoms that may be consistent with colon cancer need to seek medical attention so the appropriate testing can be done and deserve a prompt and thorough examination.
A complete listing of symptoms can be found HERE.
Fortunately, there are some controllable risk factors for colon cancer:
- Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day
- A high-fat diet, with fat coming mostly from meat
4. Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in men and the second leading cause of death in American males. If three relatives have the disease, you are 10 times more likely to get prostate cancer. If your father or your brother has prostate cancer, you are two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer. It is important for men in the 40s to get regular prostate cancer screening, including the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. According to the Mayo Clinic, prostate cancer screening can help identify cancer early on, when treatment is most effective. And a normal PSA test, combined with a digital rectal exam, can help reassure you that it’s unlikely you have prostate cancer.
5. Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes by far-making up more than 90% of the 24 million cases in the United States. Having diabetes increases the danger of heart disease, as well as a range of problems associated with impaired circulation, such as eye disease and nerve damage.
Adult-onset Type 2 Diabetes is often curable simply by eating better and exercising more. The controllable risk factors are obesity, sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in sugar. If there isn’t a family history of Type 2 Diabetes, men in their 40s change to a healthier lifestyle and mitigate the risk.
6. Obesity. Today, more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese. More than one-third of adults have obesity. Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers. If you are obese, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases. For example, that means losing 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds. Severe obesity is often treated with bariatric surgery — procedures include a gastric bypass, adjustable gastric band, and roux-en-Y gastric bypass.
7. Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
Untreated sleep apnea can:
- Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and obesity
- Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
- Make arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.
8. Depression and Suicide. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, which attributes part of the blame on underdiagnosed depression in men. To help men with depression and to reduce the risk of suicide, doctors, loved ones, and men themselves need to recognize that society’s model of masculinity — to ignore pain –can work against men. Looking the other way may trigger depression and thoughts of suicide.
9. Unintentional Injuries. Unintentional injuries are simply accidents. Though a leading cause of death for men – and Americans of all ages – many unintentional injuries can be easily prevented. Injuries in this category include, for example, injuries due to falls, fire and impaired driving. It’s important for men to have annual eye exams and know the side effects of any prescribed medication.
10. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is one of the most common lung diseases and 4th leading cause of death in the United States. The two forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Men in their 40s that smoke are making themselves susceptible to this killer. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This article is for information only. It can not substitute for the advice of a medical doctor.