Father’s Day is just days away. On top of that, it is Men’s Health Month, and the perfect time to talk about health concerns that may affect you, or any of those important men in your life. According to www.webmd.com, when it comes to men there are five top health issues that most men should take seriously enough to talk to their health care provider about. Depending on your own health history or needs, your list may be longer or shorter. The top 5 include: cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, stroke, suicide, prostate and lung cancer. Although men and women can be vulnerable to many other health concerns these are the top five factors that lead to the biggest killers of men.

Heart disease knows no boundaries and although this article is about men, women aren’t off the hook. Heart disease is stealing the lives at a rapid pace here in the U.S. Heart disease issues can range from atrial fibrillation to angina, or it may relate to specific defects in someone’s heart. What we do know is that regardless of who you are and your current health, every day you are making choices that will either help support your heart health or hurt it. Don’t be fooled by just having a healthy weight. Eating poorly, not managing stress and forgoing exercise can all contribute to or exacerbate heart problems.

Stroke is also a major concern for men. Strokes are attacks that happen in the brain and really could occur at any time. What happens in the brain is a sudden cut off of blood flow. Since we know that blood not only carries nutrients, but also oxygen, we know this means there are cells in the brain that have been restricted from oxygen that can then die. Some people will have small strokes, others will have larger ones and all have varying repercussions that can lead to disability or death. Practicing all these things we mentioned for health and also talking to your doctor about what might make you a stroke risk is important.

Even before all the big names in the news, suicide has been a contributing factor to the loss of male lives. While there is no data to prove exactly what causes suicide, we do know that about 90% of people who lose their life to suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. Mental illnesses can vary from depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. If you have mental health concerns or have had suicidal thoughts, do not brush them off and do not keep quiet. Although you may get some relief from talking to friends or family, it is most important to seek professional help – it may just save your life.

Prostate cancer is another one to top the list. Prostate cancer can show signs such as urination problems, pain or erectile dysfunction. Other times you may not experience any symptoms at all. This is why it is so important to make sure you are seeing your health care provider for proper preventive visits. When caught early, prostate cancer can be treated and become a thing of the past. If left untreated the treatment can become much more intense or it could steal your life.

Just when we think that smoking is a thing of the past, we are wrong. Americans are still smoking and some are starting younger than ever, leading to higher rates of lung cancer. If you want to lower your risk of cancer, do not smoke and if you do, quit. Quitting isn’t something you have to do alone, you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for the 802 Quit Line or call 802-334-3208 to talk to Joanne about quitting options. If you have been a smoker in the past or still are, talk to your doctor! You may even be a candidate for North Country Hospital’s low dose CT cancer screenings. Lung cancer kills, so do not shorten your life by lighting up!

From dads to brothers, uncles to cousins, or even neighbors to coworkers, we all know some men who have helped shaped us. Talk to those men and encourage them to take ownership over their health, maybe even mention that it’s Men’s Health Month as a way to start the conversation. At North Country Hospital we are raising awareness and supporting this cause by wearing blue each Wednesday in June. Feel free to join us in wearing blue, or just spreading the word. It’s Men’s Health Month – let’s keep men healthy!