It may feel like you could get away with anything in your younger years. Life was good, health was great, and nothing could ever slow you down. By the time a man hits 40, the health decisions he’s made in his life start to catch up with him. Whether you’re in prime condition or just barely squeaking by, it’s important to know these top health risks for men in their 40s and above. Barring accidents, these factors account for most men who die young or have severely degrading health at a relatively young age.
High blood pressure leads to vascular deterioration, and is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 30% of all men in their 40s have hypertension. What can you do? A healthy diet and exercise, as well as other efforts to lower your blood pressure can reduce the risk of serious complications.
High levels of LDL cholesterol, sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol, can increase your risk of heart disease by as much as double. Cholesterol in the blood can also build up in the veins and arteries, creating plaque that restricts blood flow. If these plaques break loose, they can be just as deadly as a loose blood clot. Men are more likely to have high LDL cholesterol than women. Bad cholesterol levels can be controlled through treatment and a good diet, so the best thing you can do is get to your doctor if you suspect that you have high cholesterol.
The risk of Type II diabetes goes way up after the age of 45. If you already have Type II diabetes, the chances of becoming insulin-dependent go up over time. Men over 40 have a significantly greater chance of serious diabetic complications such as blindness, neuropathies and kidney disease than younger men. Many cases of Type II diabetes can be controlled by a good diet and exercise alone. In any case, diabetes should be closely monitored for the best possible management and risk control.
Men hate to talk about erectile dysfunction (ED), especially with the prevailing myth that it’s just not going to work as well when you get older. Studies now show that erectile dysfunction is not a natural part of aging, but is often an indicator of underlying health problems. What can you do? Talk to your doctor for a health examination. Sometimes it’s just a problem with testosterone uptake, but it can be an indicator of diabetes, circulation disorders, or burgeoning prostate cancer.
Men in their 40s are more likely to be in an office job than at any other time in their life. You’re likely to work a job that involves at least some sitting, you may commute in a car or bus, or you may drive a vehicle for a living. All of these put you at risk of blood clot. A clot can break loose and cause a heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. Just getting into the habit of getting up and walking around for 5 minutes every hour can significantly reduce the risk of clot.
Studies show that men usually discover skin cancer in more advanced stages than women, leading to much higher risks of serious complications. Men, on average, are less likely to practice good sun safety or pay attention to changes in their skin. If you don’t already, start regularly wearing sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, and check your skin for changes in color or texture at least once a month.
It’s not a matter of willpower, shaking it off or pretending it’s not there – depression is a huge, potentially deadly problem. Men are about four times more likely to succeed in committing suicide than women, and most of them are aged 20-50. What can you do? Pay attention to your mental health, and remember that the most selfish thing is to not take time for yourself and your mental well-being. If you feel depressed for extended periods of time, get help. It could even be a physical health issue causing the depression, but most types of depression are treatable.
Men in their 40s are more likely to be married and secure in their jobs than at any other point in life. The problem? Many men give up good eating habits, stop hitting the gym, and don’t move as much as they used to. Excess weight kills. It puts strain on your heart and joints, could impact your liver and kidneys, and can lead to such issues as diabetes. The fix is easy – don’t give up your health and fitness even if you feel that it’s no longer a priority. Keeping in shape is about a lot more than just making a splash on the dating scene, and limit or eliminate alcohol. Strength exercises can help retain muscle mass longer, also staving off age-related weight gain.
Diseases that affect the lung, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are huge killers. Historically, men have been significantly more likely to die of COPD than women, though recent years have seen an upsurge in female deaths. The best way to avoid lung disease is to quit smoking. If you think you might already have COPD or another lung problem, get to the doctor – it’s often treatable to manage symptoms and keep it from getting worse.
Bar none, heart disease is the #1 overall killer. The biggest risk factors of heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure, and high LDL cholesterol. Men are more likely to have at least one of these risk factors in their 40s than women, and many who die of heart disease are under the age of 65. If you know you have one of these risk factors, correcting it is the first step to potentially living a longer life.
As you get older, it’s unlikely that you can dodge every health problem, but you can significantly reduce the risk through healthy daily habits. Good diet and exercise, stress management, and sun safety can go a long way to safeguarding your health well into your senior years.