Men’s Health Issues: Common Challenges, Overcoming Myths

June 03, 2019

In honor of Men’s Health Month, we are taking a look at some of the unique health challenges men face. Men are more likely to develop health conditions like:

  • Heart disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • High blood pressure 
  • High cholesterol

These are just some of the many potential health conditions men may face in life.  Fear is one of the main reasons why the majority of men avoid going to the doctor. Even though going to the doctor can be nerve racking, it is important to know your health status and catch problems early on.


Most Common Men’s Health Problems


AltaMed man getting blood pressure checked
 

Because of their reluctance to see a doctor, men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with a disease or illness when it is further along, and treatment is more complicated. 

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., accounting for one in every four male deaths. Heart disease is more common among whites, African-Americans, and Latinos. 
  • Approximately one man in every nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. 
  • Studies show that men under 50 are more likely to have high blood pressure than women of the same age. High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure if left undiagnosed and untreated.
  • Men are almost twice as likely as women to die from accidents including a fall, a car accident, drowning, or violence.


Bad Health Habits


AltaMed man smoking
 
The numbers above seem high until you consider that men are more likely to have unhealthy habits that lead to many of these issues. 

  • Almost 16% of men smoke cigarettes and they often start before they turn 18 years old.
  • Almost 31% of men over age 18 have five or more alcoholic beverages a day.
  • High blood pressure in men is usually a result of stress, diet, alcohol, and tobacco use. (For women its most often linked to obesity or hormonal changes).   
  • According to the Census Bureau, men make up nearly 55% of those without health insurance in the U.S.
  • Perhaps most dangerous of all, up to 60% of men are unlikely to seek medical care, even when they believe that they may be seriously ill. The Centers for Disease Control found that men are three times as likely to go without a doctor visit for five or more years.  


Myths About Men’s Health


AltaMed men mud run

Unfortunately, our cultures around the world tell men that they should be tough, brave, and strong. They are encouraged to “man up” to earn respect. One of the side effects of this is that men often believe going to the doctor is as a sign of weakness.

  • Men don’t want to change – the doctor may advise they lose weight, stop smoking, cut down on alcohol
  • Everything’s probably fine – men may not have any symptoms, so they don’t want to “waste” their time or money
  • They can play through it – athletes do it all the time, so many men believe they can just deal with the pain


Bottom Line


AltaMed man at doctor

Encourage the men in your life to understand how important it is to seek regular care for their health. Living longer and healthier requires effort —especially getting routine medical checkups, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, getting or staying active, and seeking mental health help if it is needed. 

Men should also find a doctor they are comfortable talking with about all of these issues and concerns. See our doctor finder if you or a loved one doesn’t have a regular doctor, or needs to find one that speaks your preferred language.  

The Department of Health and Human Services has found that men are often reluctant to get health information in traditional places like doctor’s offices. In that case, the mobile AltaMed clinic may be just what the doctor ordered! 

We’ve made health care easier than ever with bilingual staff, health screenings, and education in locations that are convenient to you. Check out the information below to find locations and hours that are convenient for you.


Northgate Markets throughout Los Angeles and Orange County

  • Follow AltaMed on Facebook and Instagram for updates on screening dates and locations. 


The Mexican Consulate


The Mexican Consulate will be providing glucose and blood pressure screenings monthly from 9am-12pm at 2401 W 6th St, Los Angeles. Below are the dates you can get screened:

  • Thursday, June 27 
  • Thursday, July 25
  • Thursday, August 22
  • Thursday, September 26
  • Thursday, October 24 
  • Thursday, November 28


City of HPPD National Night Out


AltaMed will be providing free adult health screenings and resources at 6542 Miles Ave., in Huntington Park on Tuesday, August 6. The Huntington Park Police Department will be hosting this event and there will be community organizations, food, and giveaways. 

 

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6 Top Healthy Living Apps for Your Physical & Mental Well-Being

March 01, 2019

Looking to improve your health? Join the club! Actually, with today’s health apps, you don’t need to. There are more than 318,000 health apps available to help you manage your health. From making smart food choices to exercising, and getting better sleep, these apps help turn health goals into healthy habits. So, grab your water bottle and your smartphone, and check out these six apps that can help you take control of your health.


Omada Health
Available for iOS and Android; Price: free for AltaMed Patients in Orange County
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed people doing thai chi

Omada was created to help users lose weight and lower their risks of getting diabetes and heart disease. Omada provides the tools and support you need to succeed by helping you break up your health goals into small, easy steps. The app allows you to track your meals and activity/exercise, offers lessons on nutrition and stress, and connects you with a health coach to support and guide your progress. Plus, Omada gives AltaMed patients a valuable freebie: a smart scale that connects to the app. 


MapMyWalk
Available for iOS, Android & Samsung; Price: $0
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed two women waling up the stairs

Using your phone’s built-in GPS, MapMyWalk tracks your daily walks and uses Google Maps to show you your route. It also collects and shows you your speed, distance, and calories burned. Receive audio updates on how you are doing while you walk, and use the website to see your history, make friends, join groups, and see how your friends are doing. 


Pillow (Sleep Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed older woman and husband sleeping

This easy-to-use app provides detailed information about your sleep cycle to help you get more restful sleep. Simply place your phone on your mattress near your pillow while you sleep and Pillow will track your activity during the night. You can also analyze and record your sleep, heart rate, and audio events such as snoring, sleep talking, or sleep apnea. 

Connect to Apple’s Health app to compare your sleep to other health measurements. Pillow’s intelligent alarm clock helps you wake up rested by waking you at the lightest sleep stage. The app comes with features that let you track your mood during the day, and gives you personalized recommendations. Premium features include unlimited access to your sleep history, nap modes, access to a large library of wake-up and sleep-aid programs and melodies, and the ability to export and download your data to use with other programs.  


Fooducate (Nutrition & Health Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, various premium levels available starting at $1.99
AltaMed woman shopping for fruit

Not only does Fooducate let you track the foods you eat each day, but it educates you on healthy eating choices. The Fooducate app lets you input the foods you eat to learn about their nutritional value by scanning a barcode or searching the extensive database. The app also offers a daily stream of tips and articles to help motivate you on your food journey. Look through the archive of foods, check for top graded food choices, and set individual goals beyond weight loss. Fooducate can even send you a reminder on your phone to use it while you are shopping at the supermarket.


Instant Heart Rate+ HR Monitor
Available for iOS, Android & Windows Phone; Price: $4.99, various premium levels available starting at $3.99
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed heart app

Whether you’re just starting an exercise program or you’ve worked out for years, your heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness level. This straightforward heart rate app lets you discover your heart rate in 10 seconds or less. Just place the tip of your index finger on your phone’s camera and the app will detect color changes in your finger each time your heart beats. It then tells you your heart rate and puts the data in an easy-to-understand chart. Additional add-on features allow you to track heart health, access videos and motivational audio, and receive emails with tips on healthy living. Instant Heart Rate Monitor is used for research and trials by leading cardiologists, and is rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app. 


HabitList
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
AltaMed people high fiving

HabitList is designed to give you everything you need to set and reach your health goals, all wrapped up in a clear, direct format. Enter your goals and the app breaks everything down into clear steps by day and frequency to help you stay focused. The app helps you stay motivated by encouraging you to beat your own personal best at each repeated task, then rewarding you when you do. View trends over a period of time, create a flexible and personalized goal schedule, and easily check off your healthy to-do list. 


New to Physical Fitness? Start Here First.
At AltaMed, we love that there are so many tools to help make it fun and easy for people to work on their health goals. But you may have different health needs, and not every activity will be right for you. If you’ve never exercised before or you have an existing health condition like diabetes or heart disease, talk to your doctor before you start a program. They can help you determine the best options for you. 

We don’t have an app for that, but we do have a handy doctor search tool to help you find a doctor near you.

 

 

Colorectal Cancer: Know Your Risks & Get Tested

July 02, 2019

If you only take away one thing from this article, it should be this: colorectal cancer testing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from this deadly disease, so talk to your doctor about when testing is right for you.

Take a couple more minutes to learn about colorectal cancer causes, risks, and prevention. The more you know, the easier it is to take the right steps to protect yourself.

 

What is Colorectal Cancer?

x-rays

Colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest cancer in the United States. It’s usually thought of as men’s health issue because, even though both men and women are at equal risk, men are more likely to develop rectal cancer. Also known simply as colon cancer, it’s a disease that occurs in the colon (the bowel) or rectum (the passageway from the colon to the anus). Colon cancer starts as abnormal growths called polyps, which may become cancerous over time. If these polyps are detected early enough, there is an excellent chance of survival. However, left undetected, the polyps can quickly become cancerous. And left untreated, colon cancer can quickly spread to other areas of the body. This is why everyone over the age of 50 needs to get screened.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

stomachache

Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why regular screenings can make the difference between life and death.  As the disease advances through the body, common symptoms include:

  • A noticeable change in your bowel habits that last four weeks or more
  • Bloody stools (bowel movements)
  • Stomach pain or cramps that don’t go away
  • Unexplained weight loss

 

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, particularly the ones relating to your bowel and bathroom habits, see your doctor right away.

Risk Factors You Can’t Change

man with a doctor

Age is the number one risk factor for colon cancer. Statistics show that 90% of colorectal cancer cases occur in those 50 years of age or older.

Other risk factors include:
⦁    A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
⦁    A family history of colorectal cancer
⦁    Certain genetic/inherited abnormalities such as Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and others
 

If you have any of these risk factors, your doctor may recommend early or frequent testing.

 

Risk Factors You Can Control

woman with headphones

When you make healthy lifestyle changes to cut your risks for colon cancer, you’re also protecting yourself from many other cancers, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, depression, and more.

  •  If you’re overweight, losing just a few pounds can help cut your risks.
  •  Heavy drinking raises your risks, so try cutting back on alcohol.
  • Smoking/tobacco use increases your risks for almost all cancers and many other diseases, so take steps to quit.
  • Increase your activity level, particularly cardiovascular exercise. Even taking a few brisk walks every day helps.

  • Increase your activity level. Even taking a few brisk walks every day helps.
  • Ditch the red meat or processed meat products (such as hot dogs and luncheon meat) and opt for lean meats like chicken or fish instead.

 

Over 50? Schedule a Checkup!

Doctor seeing a patient

For those who don’t have the genetic, family, or personal health concerns listed above, the CDC recommends regular screenings beginning at age 50, and screenings following doctor’s recommendations until age 75. Proactive health screenings are some of the best protection against many types of cancer. Adults between the ages of 76- 85 should get screened only when directed by a doctor.

There are several different ways to test for colorectal cancer. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you based on your health history, current risk factors, and your personal preferences. Some of the tests, like the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), are done once a year, and can even be done in your own home. A colonoscopy is a more invasive screening but is only performed once every 10 years. Plus, colorectal cancer screenings are covered at no cost to you by most health coverage plans.

It’s important for you to feel comfortable talking about delicate health matters with your doctor. It’s their job to listen to your health problems and make you feel protected and respected. To help you get that right ‘fit’ so you can start building a great doctor/patient relationship, we created an easy-to-use online tool that lets you find doctors based on your personal preferences for gender, language, and even location. Give it a try – and then schedule that checkup!