Week pushes caution as key to men’s health

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 12, 2000

Talk to your doctor.

Monday, June 12, 2000

Talk to your doctor. That’s the advice from Dr. Scott Davis when it comes to men’s health – just in time for National Men’s Health Week this week.

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"The most common cause of death after 30 is heart disease," Dr. Davis said.

And your doctor is there to help guide you away from heart ailments – all you have to do is find out.

For example, there are four good ways to steer clear of heart disease, Dr. Davis said.

No. 1, stop smoking.

No. 2, get your cholesterol checked and get it under control.

No. 3, watch your blood pressure and treat it if it’s high.

No. 4, know the signs of a heart attack.

Those signs include chest pressure that typically, but not always, radiates into the arm or neck, Dr. Davis said.

The signs also come on with exertion and get better with rest and are sometimes associated with nauseu or vomiting.

"If people would just recognize the symptoms of chest pain and come to their doctor," he said, adding that if you think it’s necessary, go to the emergency room immediately.

Still, even if you think it just couldn’t have been a heart attack, you need to come in for a stress test to see if heart disease exists, Dr. Davis said.

"You’re better safe than sorry."

Men should also keep a close eye on cholesterol levels, watch their weight, schedule prostate exams and generally talk with their doctors more often, he said.

And National Men’s Health Week is a good time to start, national organizers said.

The week promotes specific issues related to men’s health in similar ways that other weeks target cancer, for example, organizers said.

In addition to non-gender specific issues such as heart disease, cholesterol count or blood pressure, the specific men’s health issues men are encouraged to address this week include stroke, colon cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide, alcoholism and men’s fear of doctors, among others.

Organizers of the event say dedicating a week to men’s health can make a difference.

When the problems of women’s breast cancer and its rising rates became apparent over the past several years, the designation of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month enabled a broad coalition of health organizations, associations, individual groups and the media to focus on the vital role that simple steps such as breast self-exams can play in preventing the deadly disease.

As a result, more women than ever before are taking steps to detect and treat breast cancer at its earliest stages.

By developing an entire week on the broad range of health issues affecting men, and ultimately their families, National Men’s Health Week attempts to achieve the same positive behavioral changes among men that is already being undertaken by women.

One simple change would be encouraging men to take as active a role as women do in regularly visiting their physician for basic treatment and examinations.

The rate of male mortality could significantly be reduced if men sought treatment before symptoms have reached a critical stage, for example.

Individuals interested in specific information about National Men’s Health Week can write to: National Men’s Health Foundation, 154-182 East Minor Street, Emmaus, Pa. 18098.

There is a toll-free phone line (1-800-955-2002) and Web site (www.nmhw.org) where individuals can order a free men’s health booklet.