Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Native American men. Four out of five heart disease deaths are caused by stroke or heart attack. Risk factors include high cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Your doctor can easily screen you during a wellness check for these factors.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Native American men. The cancers most prevalent and dangerous to men’s health are prostate, lung, colorectal.
Colorectal Cancer Screenings are recommended for all adults over age 50 and should be done every five years. This can be done via a sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Symptoms of colorectal cancer include diarrhea or constipation lasting over a month, abdominal pain, blood in your stool, fatigue and weight loss.
Lung Cancer Screenings should be done for anyone over age 55 who currently smokes or has been a smoker in the past 15 years. Although symptoms don’t usually show up until the later stages of lung cancer, these symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, a cough that won’t go away or coughing up blood, hoarseness, bone pain, and weight loss.
Prostate Cancer There is a screening test for prostate cancer as well. Ask your doctor if this is a test recommended for you. Prostate cancer symptoms include trouble urinating, discomfort in the pelvic region, erectile dysfunction, and blood in the semen.
Diabetes is number four on the list (after accidental injuries). The American Diabetes Association recommends anyone older than 45 years old be screened every three years. Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, increased urination, weight loss, slow healing sores or infections, blurry vision, and tingling hands or feet.
Also recommended is a screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm for all men over 65 who had been a smoker. Although this is not one of the leading causes of death, abdominal aortic aneurysm is extremely fatal and can go undetected without proper screening.
Four pillars can help increase wellness.
Sleep Getting less than seven hours of sleep increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes and can also contribute to obesity and high blood pressure. Lack of sleep and poor sleep, including untreated sleep apnea, has also been linked specifically to prostate and colorectal cancer.
Stress High stress levels can affect your behaviors which can increase your risk of heart disease. These behaviors include heavy drinking, smoking, and physical inactivity. Physical or mental stress has also shown to increase blood glucose levels.
Exercise Thirty minutes of daily exercise will help protect against heart attack and strokes and can lower your risk for diabetes. Exercise is also associated with a lower risk of 13 different types of cancers.
Nutrition Five servings of fruits and veggies daily will help prevent heart attack and strokes and lowers your risk for diabetes.