Men's health: reduce your risks to lead a longer, happier life
Australian men generally have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. But many men still have risk factors that lead to long-term illnesses, so it’s important that they're aware of the warning signs for heart, mental health and prostate problems.
Knowing what to look out for means you can make positive changes and seek help when you need it, to help you lead a longer, happier life.
Heart problems such as angina (chest pain) and heart attacks are caused by blockages and narrowing of coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle), and cause the most 'lost years' through death in men aged under 75. Your risk of developing heart disease depends on several factors, some of which you can change by:
- Stopping smoking (if you smoke)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Drinking no more than the recommended amount of alcohol.
These lifestyle changes may also help reduce the risk of many other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, lung cancer and stroke.
Depression is more than feeling sad — it’s a health condition which is treatable, and you don’t have to go through it alone.
Depression in men can often go undiagnosed, possibly because men are less likely to acknowledge and deal with emotional symptoms of depression such as a low mood, preferring to focus on physical symptoms such as feeling tired or restless. Studies also suggest that men can experience depression differently to women. Signs and symptoms associated with depression in men can include:
- A continuous low mood
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Losing interest in work, family and hobbies
- Negative self-talk
- Excessive worry about finances
- Violent or abusive behaviour
- Neglecting responsibilities (not looking after yourself)
- Alcohol or substance abuse.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help. Apart from your doctor, you can also talk to a mental health provider or other health care professional. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a family member or friend if you need to talk. Depression is a known high-risk factor for suicide, and unfortunately, the suicide rate in Australia is four times higher in men than women.
If you have thoughts of suicide, please seek immediate help. There a number of options available. Your GP and the emergency department at your local hospital will be able to help you. You can also ring a crisis centre or hotline such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263 for specialised 24-hour help, support and advice.
Bupa can help to find a healthier you, and if you make the switch to Bupa or move to the Mining Family Matters Bupa health plan, you'll save money and help to support our free website at the same time. Click here for details.
- Andrology Australia
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of death, Australia, 2009
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia's health 2012
- National Heart Foundation of Australia
- National Institute of Mental Health. Men and depression
- Holden CA McLachlan RI Pitts M et al. Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATeS): a national survey of the reproductive health and concerns of middle-aged and older Australian men. The Lancet. 2005; 366: 218-224.
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