Why do we need a men's health week?

Health and Fitness

This week is Men’s Health Week. 

Men's Health Week is all about promoting boys' and men's health and wellbeing by encouraging communities across Australia to reach out to men, boys and their families through education, activities, events and promotions.

So, why do we need a men’s health week?

Well, men have a set of unique challenges and issues when it comes to health. There are biological and genetic difference to women as well as the cultural and behavioural factors that affect health.

Men are more generally more likely to engage in riskier behaviour and less likely to seek professional health advice. These are among the reasons that in Australia men live on average of 5 years less than women. From before birth through every stage of life, men are more likely to die than women.

Men and heart disease

The genetic differences between men and women and the role this plays in heart disease prevalence are still be studied in the science world, including at the Heart Research Institute.

What we do know, is that many of the modifiable causes and behaviours that lead to heart disease and related illnesses are particularly prevalent in men.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, men:
  • Are more likely to be current smokers
  • Are more likely to be overweight or obese
  • Are more likely to drink at levels considered risky
  • Start drinking at an earlier age than women on overage
  • Are less likely to eat the recommended fruit and vegetable allowance
  • Are more likely to eat high calorie foods
  • Are less likely to visit a GP
  • Are less likely to discuss their health problem with a professional

 

But it's not all bad news!

While these statistics outline a challenge to men in relation to heart disease (and health in general) the good news is that it is possible to change these behaviours. By educating men on the effects of their lifestyle and the positive changes they can make, it is possible to reduce the risks that men take and improve their overall health outcomes.

Men at risk

While men are generally considered to have worse health outcomes, for a wide range of reasons there are groups of men whose outcomes are generally worse still.

Indigenous men

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience and die from cardiovascular disease at much higher rates than other Australians. In 2012-13, 11% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males reported having heart disease. Unfortunately, that rate is even higher among women (13%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas are also significantly more likely than those in non-remote areas to have reported having heart disease (17% compared with 11%).

Men of South Asian origin

While research continues, it does appear that men of South Asian origin do tend to be at heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, particular premature coronary heart disease.

Men in rural and regional areas

People living outside our cities have worse health care outcomes, and generally the more remote you are the worse your health is. One in four people living in regional and rural areas is suffering from cardiovascular disease compared with one in five metropolitan areas. These differences are largely preventable, resulting from unequal access to medical care, good quality affordable food, and community networks and supports.

Prisoners

It has generally been acknowledged that prisoners have relatively poor health outcomes when compared with others. With men making up the vast majority of prisoners (93%) in Australia, this is an area of health that affects men greatly.

Migrant men

Migrants from foreign cultures, particularly those with poor English have particular difficulty accessing Australian health services. There may be a lack of knowledge about available services, communication barriers arising from language differences, varying cultural attitudes to health and interaction as well as a minimal knowledge about the health-care system in Australia.

Men with disabilities

A number of barriers prevent people with disabilities from accessing timely and effective health care. There are physical and organisational barriers, including inadequate transportation, failure to provide assistance with communication and discriminatory attitudes among healthcare staff.

Doctors say, in general, the three most commonly reported symptoms when men have a heart attack are:
  • Chest pain
  • Chest discomfort
  • Chest pressure

 

However, that same study found that 10 percent of men experienced no chest pain at all. And diabetics can have heart attacks without feeling pain. 

Previous
Next

Related news

7 ways to avoid injuries when starting to exercise

If you’re looking to take charge of your heart health and overall wellbeing, exercise is one of the best ways. It can take a lot of willpower and motivation to get into an exercise program, so the last thing you want is for a simple and avoidable injury to derail you. Whether you’re returning to exercise after an absence, or starting from scratch, here are some ideas to help you get into it safely.

Read more

Meet the team: Dr Melissa Farnham

Born and raised in Nevada, USA, Dr Melissa Farnham originally had no interest in research. Now Unit Leader of the High Blood Pressure Group at HRI, and balancing the challenges of family and work, she couldn’t imagine any other career path.

Read more

Protecting the most at-risk from diabetes

Diabetes is one of the major risk factors for heart disease – in fact, people living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those without. In Australia, one person develops diabetes every five minutes, and Aboriginal Australians suffer disproportionately from it. So what are we doing about it?
Read more