Men's Health: Expert Shares Top Health Concerns | Loyola Medicine
Monday, March 2, 2015

Loyola men's health expert shares some of the top health concerns men face

MAYWOOD, Ill. – (February 26, 2015) Men lead women in the likelihood to die from nearly all the most common causes of death. Still, men are less likely to go to the doctor than women and often try to ignore symptoms of health problems.

"A lot of men think going to the doctor is just one more thing on a seemingly endless 'to do' list. But to get all those other 'to dos' done men need to starting thinking about their health and making it a priority," said Kevin Polsley, MD, primary care physician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Here are the top five health concerns for men and some tips on how to prevent them.

Heart disease Men have a higher risk of heart attacks than women and these risks increase when there is family history of the disease. Heart disease risks also increase if a man smokes, has high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.

"Exercise and diet are extremely important in preventing heart attacks. Routine preventive care appointments with a primary care physician also can help identify most of these risk factors, and modification and treatment of these risks factors can help decrease the risk as well," said Polsley.

Sleep Apnea It is estimated that 18 million Americans have sleep apnea but many aren’t tested for it. Subtle symptoms include snoring, waking up frequently in the night to urinate, headaches in the morning or waking up with a dry mouth. 

"Sleep is extremely important for our bodies. When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies and our minds suffer. Many men’s health issues can be helped if they take steps to manage their sleep apnea. Long-term complications from the disease include high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, so it’s an important condition to diagnose and treat," said Polsley.

Weight loss can help decrease this problem. Polsley recommends a sleep test to determine the cause of the sleep apnea and the best treatment.

High blood pressure Family history and obesity are two of the leading causes of high blood pressure.

"Whether you have a family history of high blood pressure or not, weight loss can decrease the risk of developing the disease. A low-sodium diet also can help when battling high blood pressure. Many people think that means just avoiding salt, but it’s more than that; it’s a lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you," said Polsley.

High cholesterol also has a strong genetic component. Still, a man can have high cholesterol even if there is no family history. Diet and exercise are key to preventing this disease.

"Diet and exercise are the best way to help prevent high cholesterol. If you have a family history or are concerned, eating fish or taking a fish oil supplement also have been shown to help prevent high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor," said Polsley.

Colon cancer Statistics show that men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with colon cancer.  Early detection is important for battling colon cancer so a colonoscopy should be done every 10 years after the age of 50 or earlier if there is a family history.

"If caught early, the prognosis for colon cancer is good. That is why everyone, men and women, should have routine colonoscopies. They may not be pleasant, but they can save your life," said Polsley.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.