Top Health Concerns for Men and Women

Get a handle on the most pressing health concerns as you age

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We think we’re invulnerable when we’re young, but when we reach our late 30s, health concerns start cropping up. Major health concerns vary by age, notes Cleveland Clinic internist Raul Seballos, MD, Vice Chair of Preventive Medicine.

“Men in their 60s worry more about prostate cancer, while men in their 50s are more concerned about heart disease or ED (erectile dysfunction),” he says. “Women in their 50s are more concerned about menopause, while osteoporosis becomes a concern for women in their 60s.”

See if you’ve got a handle on the top health concerns for men and women. Some are unique to men, some are unique to women, and some are shared.
Here they are, in order:

Top health concerns for men

  1. Prostate cancer
  2. Heart disease risks, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  3. Erectile dysfunction
  4. Weight management with age
  5. Diabetes
  6. Stroke

Top health concerns for women

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Heart disease risks, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  3. Osteoporosis
  4. Menopause treatment options
  5. Weight management with age
  6. Diabetes
  7. Stroke

For health issues affecting both men and women, Dr. Seballos offers the following tips:

Tips for men and women

Heart disease risk (including high blood pressure and high cholesterol): If heart disease runs in your family or if your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are high, ask your doctor about taking medications to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and whether a daily aspirin might help. Your doctor will keep tabs on your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and can order cardiac stress tests if any concerns about heart disease arise. 

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Weight management with age: As we age and our metabolisms slow down, it’s smarter than ever to right-size our meals by eating smaller portions of healthier food. Exercise also becomes increasingly important, to maintain flexibility and mobility. Both of these measures will help to prevent type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other weight-related problems.

Diabetes: Nearly 79 million Americans have prediabetes (elevated blood sugar), the precursor to type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and loss of limb. If you have prediabetes, studies show that a healthier diet and increased activity can restore your blood sugar to normal and prevent diabetes. Controlling your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure are critical, and if you smoke, it’s more important than ever to quit.

Stroke: Become familiar with warning strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). If you or someone you know develops weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg(s), confusion, speech or comprehension problems, vision loss, dizziness, or difficulty with walking, balance or coordination, call 9-1-1. Immediate treatment in the emergency department with clot-busting medication can be lifesaving.

Tips for men

Prostate cancer: Schedule a prostate screening, including a simple blood test of PSA levels, every year starting at age 50. If your father or brothers developed prostate cancer early or if you are African-American, start screening at age 40 or 45. Fortunately, prostate cancer is highly curable when caught early. Today, not every man with a high PSA level has to have surgery or radiation therapy. Depending upon age and risk factors, surveillance, or “watchful waiting,” may be recommended.

Erectile dysfunction: ED is very common, especially if you have developed diabetes or have had your prostate removed. In addition, men with ED are 1.6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s important to discuss your cardiovascular risk factors with your physician before asking for one of the ED medications.

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Tips for women

Breast Cancer: In your 20s and 30s, get a clinical breast exam by a health professional at least every three years; after age 40, get an exam every year. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option in your 20s and beyond, but know its benefits and limitations, and report any breast changes to a health professional right away. At age 40, start yearly screening mammograms, and continue them for as long as you’re in good health.

Have any abnormality on a breast exam or mammogram checked out right away; if an abnormality is found, you may need more frequent mammograms. If there is breast cancer in the family, you may need BRCA gene testing. Women with the BRCA 1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are at very high risk of breast cancer.

Osteoporosis: Exercise is your friend when it comes to bone health. Being physically active, and getting adequate calcium and vitamin D in your diet or through supplements are some of the steps you can take to prevent bone fragility and fractures. It’s also important to avoid smoking, which weakens your bones.

Menopause and its treatment: Menopause does bring “change,” but talk to your doctor if symptoms arising from changing female hormone levels become troublesome. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help some women manage hot flashes and night sweats, mood swings and other problems. A risk profile will determine whether or not HRT is right for you.

More information

Prostate Cancer Testing and Treatment Guide – Free Download

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