The Top Men's Health Concerns in 2021

Jun. 2, 2021

Learn more about a few men’s health topics that are top of mind in 2021 and what you can do to improve your overall health.

In honor of National Men’s Health Month (June), Javier Baez, MD, UC Health primary care physician in Montgomery, Ohio and an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, is helping to raise awareness in the region about preventable health problems, and ways to encourage early detection and treatment of disease among males.

Here are a few health topics men should be aware of.

Cardiovascular Disease

The American Heart Association has predicted that cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is likely to remain the world’s leading cause of death. In addition to the direct detrimental cardiovascular health effects from COVID-19 itself, the pandemic has facilitated bad habits for individuals such as unhealthy eating, increased alcohol consumption and decreased exercise. These poor habits enhance one’s risk for future high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

While heart disease is a serious threat to both men and women, a man’s risk of heart disease greatly increases as early as age 45. 50% of men who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms of the disease. It is important for everyone to know what risk factors they may have for heart disease as well as how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, this way you can have the tools to best prevent the onset of heart disease.

In 95% of deaths from heart disease, the individual had at least one of these major risk factors; smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight, physical inactivity and diabetes. Unlike other risk factors such as age and family history, these major risk factors can be helped. For instance, people who smoke are up to six times more likely than nonsmokers to suffer a heart attack. In fact, smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease in the United States.

You can reduce your risk for heart disease by up to 82% by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle. To keep your heart healthy, it is vital to maintain all the following heart-healthy habits:

  • Healthy diet.
  • Regular physical activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stop (or never start) smoking.

Colon and Prostate Health

As previously mentioned, staying up to date on wellness visits and routine screening tests is important for early detection that could save your life. Men are particularly at risk for colon cancer and prostate cancer. Age-appropriate screenings are available to prevent severe illness from these terrible conditions.

Colon cancer screening with a colonoscopy is recommended to start at least at age 50, or earlier if the individual has a family history of cancer, and every 10 years thereafter if normal.

A discussion about the risks and benefits of undertaking prostate cancer screening is recommended for average-risk individuals starting at age 55. For those at increased risk, such as first-degree relatives with prostate cancer, screening may begin earlier.

Like numerous other conditions, being a current or former smoker also puts you at risk for severe blood vessel disease such as abdominal aortic aneurysm. Individuals with this risk factor should talk to their doctor about further screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm between the ages 65 and 75.

While screenings are essential and certain risk factors are uncontrollable (including age and family history), research shows that preventative measures can be taken to lessen your risk of these conditions:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Limit high-fat meats and high-fat dairy foods.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Regular physical activity.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Stop (or never start) smoking.

Anxiety and Depression

Mental wellness plays a key role in our overall health, we typically feel better as a whole when our mental health is in a good place and likewise, poor mental health can be harmful. In fact, depression is a common risk factor for high blood pressure and obesity. Also, anxiety is a common risk factor of heart disease. These are just a few examples of the physical toll poor mental health can take on a person.

Taking into consideration the past year and everything going on in the world, it is normal to feel overwhelmed at times. Make sure to disconnect occasionally to focus on your mental well-being. Physical activity, meditation and getting the proper amount of sleep are great ways to start consciously prioritizing your mental health.

Many men experience difficulties with communicating their feelings on this subject, as mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression may be difficult to admit. However, they are treatable, and we can help you. Treatment may include counseling, medication or a combination of both. It is important to recognize that mental illness is in fact an illness and not a weakness and should be treated as such. If you or your loved one is experiencing signs of anxiety or depression seeking professional help, including speaking with your primary care physician, is the first step to take.

Symptoms of depression in men include:

  • A continually sad or grouchy mood.
  • Trouble focusing.
  • A major change in appetite and energy.
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Lack of interest in life.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Seeking relief through drugs or alcohol.
  • Anger or aggression.

Is it safe to visit a doctors’ office for wellness visits and other care right now?

Yes. Following the state and CDC guidelines, UC Health has many safety protocols in place so that you never need to delay your healthcare needs. UC Health doctors’ offices, emergency departments and hospitals are all open, safe and prepared. UC Health has taken every precaution to ensure our patients and visitors are safe in all of our facilities.

Many patients are very comfortable seeing their physicians for in-person visits, and we have gone the extra mile to make sure our patients and visitors are safer than ever.

Primary care physicians, like Dr. Baez, are accepting new patients — and they offer in-person visits as well as virtual visit options.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Baez or any primary care physician at UC Health, call 513-475-8001.