There may be a discrepancy between how much men value their health and how much they do to look after it, according to new research from Public Health England.
When asked to choose the top three most important things in their life, three quarters (74%) of men aged 40-60 ranked their health in the top three compared with only 32% selecting leisure time, 31% choosing wealth and less than a quarter stating their career (23%).
Despite this, 64% identify themselves to be overweight, and only 28% think that men of their age do regular exercise with the aim of staying healthy. In addition only a third (32%) think that men their age check themselves regularly for signs of ill health.
Although many men are aware of many of the risks associated with heart disease, including high cholesterol, less than half (46%) had their cholesterol checked in the last year, and around a third (31%) either couldn’t remember or knew that they had never had a cholesterol check. Only a third (35%) feel confident that they know all the risk factors for heart disease.
On World Heart Day 2015, Public Health England is encouraging men aged 40-74 to take up their invitation for a free NHS Health Check appointment, for an opportunity to assess their cardiovascular health and lower their risk of developing preventable conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer and dementia.
Many men have little expectation of how much they can influence their future health, despite the fact that it is possible to reap the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices at any age. Around six in ten (58%) believed that as they get older their health is going to get worse, regardless of whether they lead a healthy lifestyle.
The NHS Health Check is designed to help lower the potential of developing conditions in the future, and offers follow up lifestyle interventions where necessary as well as important physical checks such as cholesterol and blood pressure testing.
Jamie Waterall, National Lead for the NHS Health Check Programme, Public Health England, said:
“It is clear that men as well as women should be doing something to reduce the major risks to their health, such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, alcohol and not being active, and recognise that all these lifestyle choices will have a huge impact on their health.
“The NHS Health Check provides adults with an opportunity to evaluate their risk at an age when their chances of developing serious conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer and dementia really do increase. We also know that by taking action earlier or getting help, people can significantly reduce or manage their risk of these preventable diseases.”
Mark Webb, 45, from Southwark, London, said:
“I was diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure after having an NHS Health Check. I went straight to my doctor who put me on medication to control it. I received advice on lifestyle changes including eating healthier food and doing more exercise. Without the check I would have had no idea of the danger I was in, as I had no symptoms. I believe it saved my life and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to have one.”
“Coronary heart disease is still the single biggest killer in the UK and more than one in seven men die from it.”, says Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation.
“Risk factors such as high blood pressure, being overweight, lack of physical activity, diabetes and high cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
“We urge everyone over 40 to have a free NHS Health Check to understand their risk of developing heart disease and make any necessary lifestyle changes.”