The health of men remains a vital concern in our country, especially since many guys put their own wellbeing on the back burner. The average man is expected to die nearly 5 years earlier than the average woman, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, more than 1 in 5 guys have not seen any kind of health professional in over a year, a report from the National Center for Health Statistics found.
That’s one reason National Men’s Health Week, which runs from June 13 to 19 this year, was created: to raise awareness for the preventable health problems facing men, and to encourage them to seek medical care for them before it’s too late.
Related: The Better Man Project From Men’s Health—2,000+ Awesome Tips on How to Live Your Healthiest Life
This year, we’re shining a spotlight on the 7 most common man-killers. We’ll report on one every single day. Learn what can raise your risk and how to protect yourself from them—so you don’t become another statistic.
Man-Killer #5: Stroke (Cerebrovascular Diseases)
Each year, more than 55,000 men die of cerebrovascular disease, any condition that results in little or no blood flow to the brain—most commonly known as a stroke.
This accounts for 4.2 percent of all male deaths, making it the 5th leading cause of mortality for them.
While most guys associate stroke with old age, 19 percent of stroke victims are actually younger than 55, finds research from the American Academy of Neurology.
Even more concerning: Rates of stroke among that age group are on the rise, that same study shows.
What Raises Your Risk
Poor genes, too much body fat, and a smoking habit are all strongly associated with surging stroke risk, says Elizabeth Marsh, M.D., director of the stroke center at Johns Hopkins.
A blow to your head should also put you on alert.
“Trauma can lead to a dissection, or a tear in a blood vessel wall that can result in a stroke,” Dr. Marsh says.
Dissections account for 7 percent of strokes in men under 40, she adds.
Factors to Watch Out For
Blood pressure at or above 120—along with a cigarette habit—is your greatest worry, Dr. Marsh says.
Related: How High Blood Pressure Causes a Stroke
A checkup and blood panel are essential for all adult men, she says.
Depending on what that test turns up, you may have to see your doctor once a year (or more) to keep tabs on your risk factors.
How to Keep Yourself Safe
A healthy diet and exercise are key. You should also follow these 7 Steps to Reduce Your Stroke Risk.
Also, watch for signs you’re having a stroke.
“For every minute your brain is without proper blood flow, 1.9 million neurons die,” Dr. Marsh says.
Trouble standing or speaking, loss of feeling on one side of your body, and a piercing headache are all classic symptoms, she says.
*Editor’s note: Check back to the National Men’s Health Week page every day this week for an updated list of the top mankillers.