Men have higher mortality rate than women, yet remain in denial about health and ignore symptoms
In 2019, the mortality rate for women was 145 per 1,000 female adults while that for men was 201 per 1,000 male adults in India, yet men are often not attentive towards their physical wellbeing due to social conditioning. This impacts their health adversely, leading to a shorter lifespan than women. This was said by doctors of NURA, a collaboration between Fujifilm Healthcare and Dr Kutty’s Healthcare offering AI-enabled imaging and expert healthcare at Bengaluru, in the ongoing Men’s Health Week.
Said Dr. Tausif Ahmed Thangalvadi, Medical Director, NURA, Bengaluru: “There is a general tendency in men to think that if they are working productively and living up to their role in society, they are fit and healthy. Due to this, they avoid taking care of their health proactively. They consult doctors less frequently compared to females and reach out for medical help only when symptoms turn severe, which puts them at higher risk of critical ailments.”
He added: “There are five barriers that stop men from seeking help. The first is denial. They assume that small symptoms can be ignored. The second is that they consider seeking help as a sign of weakness. The third is that they retain a provider image of themselves. Taking care of family or loved ones takes precedence over taking care of their own health. The fourth is that men find it awkward to discuss their health with family and friends. Lastly, they often lack awareness about where to get the right information about their health.”
Common health threats to men include heart attacks and strokes (the No. 1 killer disease for men), diabetes, prostate cancer, lung diseases like COPD and lung cancer due to smoking, depression, and sexually transmitted infections.
Said Dr. Tausif Ahmed Thangalvadi: “Our screening of around 2,000 healthy and asymptomatic men over the last one year in Bengaluru has thrown up interesting data. About 70% of men had excess visceral fat, which leads to higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. About 35% were found to be diabetic, while another 20% were prediabetics. Over 25% of asymptomatic men with no previous history of heart disease were found to have calcium deposits in their coronaries, which increases the risk of heart attacks. About 30% of men screened had abnormal cholesterol levels. Nearly 5-6% had suspicious lung lesions which needed further opinion from a lung specialist. On the brighter side, Bengaluru men seem to maintain good oral health, as oral cancer lesions have been rarely found at our centre during screening.”
He added: “The majority of underlying causes of higher morbidity rates in males over females relate to modifiable and preventable lifestyle choices made by men. The epidemic of obesity and diabetes is directly related to smoking, poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical exercise. To improve their health and live longer, men need to adopt a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and balanced diet, avoid smoking and tobacco, and go for regular health screening that also should include testing for cancer.”
According to Dr. Tausif, all men should undergo annual health screening foe at least eight parameters. These include heart health check, lung health screening, screening for oral cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer, diabetes, blood pressure monitoring and lipid profile. “Regular health screening helps in early detection of critical ailments, making treatment timely and quite effective. It encourages people to have a healthy lifestyle and adopt better health habits, thereby reducing health risks,” he said.