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By Jade Pickering
05 July 2010 16:35
We all know how reluctant men can be at asking for help and they’re even more likely to let a niggling health worry go unnoticed. Research has shown that men visit their GP 20 per cent less than us women, which is why we should be extra vigilant on their behalf to help spot any potential health problems early. Here’s the Yours guide to keeping his health in check – whatever his age.
In his 50s
Keep an eye out for… rising blood pressure
In the UK, one in three adults have a high blood pressure, yet a third aren’t aware of it. Research from the Blood Pressure Association’s Know Your Numbers week found that 50 per cent of men tested aged between 55-64 had high blood pressure. “Being vigilant could help save his life, as over time an unhealthy lifestyle can cause high blood pressure and lead to heart disease,” explains Mike Rich, Executive Director of the Blood Pressure Association.
Know his numbers
“Unfortunately the first symptom of high blood pressure can be a stroke or heart attack, which is why it’s so important that your partner has regular blood pressure checks,” says Mike. He can visit his GP or can check it at home with a clinically validated blood pressure monitor. It’s never too late, so make sure your partner knows his numbers.
How you can help
Once you’ve had his blood pressure checked both of you can make a few simple lifestyle changes to help reduce his (and your) blood pressure. Adopt a low-salt diet, full of fruit and vegetables and get active. Go for a brisk walk every day or take up a gentle exercise like cycling or swimming. Keep an eye on his weight too, because being overweight can have an impact on blood pressure. “It’s never to late to lower your blood pressure numbers,” says Mike. “Making a positive change to his lifestyle and diet will have great benefits and reduce his risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the future.” For more advice call the Blood Pressure Association on 0845 241 0989 or visit www.bpassoc.org.uk.
In his 60s
Keep an eye out for… underlying health problems
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is actually very common and becomes more so as men age. “Up to 60 per cent of men over 60 experience some form of ED in their lifetime,” says Geoff Hackett, Consultant Urologist at the Good Hope Hospital. “But, only 15 per cent will actually seek treatment.”
What causes it?
There can be many reasons for ED and it could be simply down to a lack of libido. “However, persistent ED is usually due to underlying ill health, such as raised blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal problems or raised cholesterol,” says Geoff. Encouraging him to seek help could be saving your partner from other health problems, too.
“Firstly, make sure your other half consults his GP for advice as early lifestyle changes and management of the underlying condition can help,” explains Geoff. If your partner already suffers from ED then there are a few changes he can make to improve his symptoms. Giving up smoking, watching his weight and regular exercise, can all make a difference. Drug treatments are also available and have been successful in 70 per cent of all cases, but they can be costly. Hormone supplements can also be a solution for men who have low testosterone levels, but get him to discuss this and other treatment options with his GP. For further information on ED visit www.nhs.uk.
In your 70s
Look out for… signs of cancer
According to Cancer Research UK, prostate cancer rates have almost tripled in the last 30 years. “More than 35,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year,” says Ed Yong, Head of Health Information at Cancer Research UK. Much of this diagnosis increase is due to use of the prostate specific antigen test (PSA), which measures the amount of PSA in your blood. More positively ten-year survival rates have increased significantly, from 21 per cent in the 1970s to 60 per cent today.
Is he at risk?
Age can be a large risk factor and statistics show that nearly six out of ten cases of prostate cancer are in men over the age of 70. Also, if your partner has a family history of prostate cancer or if he’s of West African or Caribbean descent he’s at higher risk. Symptoms to look out for include: rushing to the toilet or difficulty passing urine, passing urine more often than usual – especially at night and blood in his urine or semen. Symptoms are often mild and occur over many years, because the cancer typically grows slowly. An enlarged prostate, which is common as men age, would present with similar symptoms, so if your man is having problems it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer but it’s essential to get him checked out.
“If he’s concerned about developing prostate cancer, then he should visit his GP, particularly if he’s experiencing any of the symptoms,” says Ed Yong. Lots of men find it embarrassing to talk to their GP about these types of problems, so he may need a lot of encouragement from you. For more advice call the Cancer Research UK’s nurses team on 0808 800 4040 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.
For more health advice see the latest issue of Yours Magazine – out now
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