We came across some research yesterday from a leading UK pharmacy chain that stated men across Britain are 20% less likely to visit their GP than females. This isn’t due to men having better health and it is likely down to a reluctance for men to seek help.
Indeed, men are less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle and more likely to smoke, drink too much and be overweight – this can lead to an increase in a risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. And yet, an early intervention with almost every health condition means a far higher chance of a full recovery.
So, here is a Healthy Performance Top 5 list for male employees that will help all men get on the path to a healthier life:
#1 Get your blood pressure checked
Why? Persistent and untreated high blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart disease and kidney problems.
Symptoms: High blood pressure is symptomless, so the only way of knowing whether you’re affected is to be tested every three years after the age of 40, or yearly if it’s high or someone in your family has a history of high blood pressure.
What does it involve: A cuff is fitted around your upper arm and inflated so it becomes tight, which painlessly measures blood pressure. If it’s too high (140/90 or more) your heart is having to work harder than it should to pump blood.
Reduce your risk: Increase your exercise levels to 30 minutes over 4 times a week, lower your salt and alcohol intake, and lose weight if you need to.
#2 Measure you cholesterol levels
Why? Men have more heart attacks than women. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease – it leads to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Symptoms: High cholesterol is symptomless, therefore if you’re over 40, obese or have a family history of heart disease you should have yours tested.
What does it involve: Cholesterol can be measured using a simple blood test (normally taken using the Finger Prick technique) to find the ratio of LDL (bad cholesterol) to HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides (other harmful fats) in your blood.
Reduce your risk: We recently reported that swapping to a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and nuts, can lower cholesterol.
#3 Test for diabetes
Why? It’s estimated that up to half a million men in the UK may have Type 2 diabetes without realising it. Diabetes is linked to increasing levels of obesity, unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise
Symptoms: Diabetes sufferers often complain of a constant thirst, passing large amounts of urine, tiredness, weight loss, wounds that don’t heal and recurrent infections. Also, please keep in mind that sometimes there are no symptoms.
What does it involve: Diabetes can be tested in a similar manner to cholesterol with a tiny amount of blood. The test measured glucose in blood and a high level often indicates diabetes.
Reduce your risk: Obesity is by far the biggest trigger, and shedding just 5-10% of your body weight can slash your risk of diabetes by as much as 60%.
#4 Beat off bowel cancer
Why? Bowel cancer is now the third most prevalent cancer in men, with around 23,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
Symptoms: Bleeding from the bottom, a change in bowel habits lasting more than three weeks, chronic stomach pain and unexplained weight loss are all warning signs and you should see your GP if you experience any of these symptoms.
What does it involve: Healthy Performance have now added bowel screening kits to most levels of health checks – these are self-administering kits and results are available within 14 days. If you’re over 60 and have never taken a bowel screening test then see your GP or call 0800 707 6060.
Reduce your risk: Cutting down on alcohol, and red and processed meats can slash your risk. There is also strong evidence to suggest regular exercise (150 minutes or more per week) can also lower your risk.
#5 Be prepared for prostate cancer
Why? prostate cancer is the most commonly found type of cancer in all men, with nearly 42,000 new diagnoses every year. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and an early diagnosis can be critical.
Symptoms: Difficulty passing urine, weaker stream, needing to go more frequently, especially at night. Also pain in the back or pelvis.
What does it involve:: Your GP will do a short rectal examination, as well as a PSA blood test for raised levels of prostate hormones. All men over 50 are entitled to a PSA test, but it’s generally only given to those with symptoms, and then only together with a rectal exam.
Reduce your risk: Maintaining a healthy weight can offer some protection, as can a diet high in lycopene. The best source of lycopene is cooked and processed tomatoes.