Men and Long-Term Health Problems.
The sixth annual National Men's Health Week was from 11th to 16th June, with the theme of "Men and Long-Term Health Problems". The week concentrated on common male long term conditions like musculoskeletal problems (eg back pain), Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Men are less likely to visit their doctor because: it is hard to get to the surgeries as they are not open at convenient times for them; and men are less interested in their health ; and visiting the doctor may be seen as a sign of "weakness". Therefore men tend to do nothing until it can no longer be ignored, or something drastic happens. Men also tend to take risks and ignore advice with their health - drinking alcohol excessively, eating too many fry-ups etc. As a result men die on average 5 years earlier than women, and are more likely than women to succumb to all but 5 of the 72 major causes of death.
Only 10% of men with erectile dysfunction will see a doctor, BUT it can be a symptom of diabetes. We now can supply Viagra, Cialis or Levitra for erectile dysfunction without a prescription after a consultation to ascertain your suitability.
67% of men are overweight compared with 57% of UK women, BUT doctors have found that men only make up 26% of patients using a weight loss service.
To encourage men (or to reach at their level) the "Men's Health Forum" has printed a series of "mini manuals" like car maintenance manuals on a range of male related subjects. Continuing on this theme - prevention (checking the oil, water and tires / losing weight, cutting down on fats, and increasing exercise) is better than cure (calling the RAC or AA, huge mechanics bills / Ambulance, hospital admission, weeks off work) with both cars and your health.
Cardiovascular Disease (CHD)
About one third of men have a raised BP (more than 140/85mmHg over several measurements) or are being treated for it, but about 80% of men with hypertension are not receiving treatment. Most people have no symptoms, so the only way to test is to measure the blood pressure. Left untreated it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Increased risks of CHD are: a family history of early (under 60 years of age) CHD ; smoking ; High Blood Pressure ; High Cholesterol (aim for under 5mmol/l for total cholesterol and 3mmol/l for LDL - less if diabetic) ; Diabetes ; obesity (especially around the middle) - nearly all of these are modifiable i.e. YOU can do something about them eg losing weight, exercise, reducing fats and salts, smoking cessation.
Men are 1.5 times more likely to get diabetes than women. 3% of men aged over 35 have undiagnosed diabetes (causing damage that could be prevented) - symptoms include: tiredness ; increased thirst ; increased (nighttime) urination ; blurred vision. Risks include: Family History ; Ethnic group (eg Afro-Carribeans and Asians in the UK have increased risk) ; Overweight (especially around the middle).
Reduce your risk by: increasing exercise and activity ; reducing weight ; reducing fats and sugars ; stop smoking.
If you already have diabetes - an annual MOT is essential - checking blood pressure and cholesterol - and comparing with the values recommended for diabetics. Plus during this check-up catch up with latest about self-management through diet, exercise and stopping smoking.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy are different conditions, but both are non-cancerous conditions that due to the increase in the size of the prostate, which surrounds the urethra as it leaves the bladder, it squeezes or strangles it (like stepping on a garden hose) and so restricts the flow of urine. BPH commonly affects middle aged to elderly men. About 43% of men with BPH are over 65.
Symptoms include: Poor or weak urine flow, and delay and hesitancy ; Urinary Frequency (more than normal) ; Urinary Urgency (needing to rush to toilet); Frequent trips to toilet during the night ; dribbling at the end of urination ; Incomplete emptying of bladder.
Treatment may involve lifestyle changes like: Avoiding or reducing caffeine and alcohol intake ; decreasing the amount of fluids drunk in the evening ; avoiding some medicines like anti-histamines and decongestants, which can affect the muscles in the bladder.
There are also medicines to treat BPH like Alpha-blockers (Alfuzosin, Doxazosin and Tamsulosin) and 5 a-reductase inhibitors (Finasteride), also non-surgical interventions and finally surgery may be an option.
Stress is one of the main causes of "time off work", unfortunately some men to cope with stress turn to alcohol rather than professional help, others 'internalise' or 'bottle it up' - so that one day it will erupt out in unpredictable ways. Poor sleep from stress related depression may also lead to abuse of OTC sleeping remedies, rather than once again seeking help.
Treating the underlying cause is best, rather than the symptoms long term - so seek advice and referral.
Green Light Pharmacy and Men
We at Green Light Pharmacy realise you are busy, and don't always like coming into a pharmacy and discussing things BUT you are free to come in anytime to measure your blood pressure free of charge. During Mens Health Week we will be targeting men that come into the pharmacies and ask if they have measured their blood pressure lately and offer a free blood pressure check if needed.
The pharmacist is always happy to have a confidential chat to you about your health, lifestyle and medication.
The information given here is of a general nature, for particular information talk to your pharmacist or doctor, especially if you have any other diseases, are taking other medicines, suffer other conditions or pregnant etc.