When we talk about health inequalities, i.e. the avoidable differences in people’s health across specific population groups, there are a whole host of factors that come into play. From education and good quality housing, through to geography and access to health services. Yet one constant right across the globe is the health gap between men and women. And the stats, as they say, don’t lie.
On average, women in the UK can now expect to live almost four years longer than their male counterparts. Much of this is caused by hormonal differences, for example, men generally have more visceral fat which surrounds the organs, whereas women tend to have more subcutaneous fat, which sits under the skin. However, lifestyle differences play a huge part.
In the UK, one man in five dies before he reaches 65. The tragedy in all of this? With earlier detection, so many of these deaths can be avoided.
It may sound like a stereotype, but men’s reluctance to consult their doctor and talk about their problems is a perennial issue. Research conducted by the Men’s Health Forum indicates that men are less likely to visit their doctor, to acknowledge illness and to seek help, compared to women. This is why the Forum are observing Men’s Health Week from 10th – 16th June, to shine a light on the issues facing men’s health, and to encourage men and boys to seek professional advice for health-related problems.
Let’s drill down further and take a look at some of the areas that are driving these statistics.
Men are 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women. The charity, Diabetes UK, states that 3.8 million people in the UK are now living with the condition. Furthermore, in middle-aged men, prevalence is expected to become increasingly more common over the next decade. Therefore, men really do need to be more conscious around how to prevent diabetes, as well as being able to recognise those tell-tale symptoms such as excessive thirst, fatigue and frequent urination to name a few. Weight management, diet and alcohol intake all play their part, and we encourage frequent check-ups to assess your risk level.
Coronary Heart Disease (CAD)
One of the UK’s biggest killers is CAD, which accounts for 1 in 7 of every male deaths in the UK. The condition occurs when the heart’s blood supply becomes blocked by the build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries, which, over time, causes the walls of the arteries to become furred up with fatty deposits. The causes are typically due to lifestyle factors, like smoking and obesity, as well as conditions such as diabetes, and, importantly, family history. To prevent CAD, we monitor the levels of cholesterol and other blood lipids carefully, and, if caught early, can be arrested and even reversed.
As men get older, the prostate, which is a small gland that sits under the bladder, can naturally enlarge. Although enlargement is not a life-threatening condition, it can lead to other issues, with urinary problems often a common warning sign. In men, we are particularly concerned to screen for prostate cancer from the age of fifty as it is a silent killer. Once you’ve had that all-important assessment and diagnosis, there are many treatment options, which can range from simply monitoring, to medication and surgery, depending on the severity of the diagnosis.
There has been a step-change in how society views mental health in recent years, but we are still a long way off parity between men and women in its impact. Tragically, over three quarters of all suicides are male, and it is now the biggest killer for men under the age of 35. There are a range of treatment pathways available to those seeking help, however, mental health issues can be severely damaging if left untreated. Therefore, having the courage to visit a healthcare professional and being able to talk openly in a safe environment is hugely important.
Nothing is More Important Than Your Health
So, gentleman, if you want to be there to experience your kids’ graduation, to play with your grandchildren, and to enjoy a long and active retirement, the old excuses just won’t cut it anymore. Too busy to see a doctor? Make the time. Worried they might find something you won’t like? Identify it early and get the necessary treatment. Nothing is more important than your health.
Peace of Mind Health Screening
Doctorcall offer a range of health screening options. If you are worried about a particular problem or symptom, we recommend booking a private GP consultation and getting the tests that are specifically relevant to that issue rather than a full screen. If you are under 50 and apparently in good health, a Health Screen provides excellent value for money. Otherwise we recommend a Platinum Health Screen. Click here for more information.