Men Die Young, Women Don’t Care: Introduction

Hello and welcome to  the Men Die Young Blog.  As a family and sports medicine doctor in southern california I take care of many types of patients.  While I like to treat illness I think it is far better to prevent disease and death if possible.  One segment of the population that I feel is woefully under treated and at risk for disease are men.   As almost everyone knows, men don’t live as long as women.   In my practice I see many middle-aged men (I use 40 years + as my start of middle age…harsh but true) that show up with advanced disease and when I ask when their last physical exam was, many times it was way back in high school over 20 years ago.

Women do a better job of going to the doctors and getting preventive care.  For various reasons, they usually get almost annual check ups.  I think this is a significant reason they live longer.  Guys are guys. We are told at an early age, especially if you played any sports to:  not complain, suck-it-up, do-your-job and don’t be a wimp.   Men don’t like going to the doctors, so they don’t.  I think this is significant reason they don’t live as long as women.

What strikes me funny is that while, essentially, everyone knows that men die young, there just doesn’t seem to be any alarm about this.  I kiddingly think that if women died younger than men that women would do something about it. There would most likely be an Avon-type fund raiser walk that would be promoted, a special colored ribbon to wear and maybe, if Oprah was still on TV, that she would do a special about how women need as good a medical care as men so they would live as long.  Guys die younger than women and frankly even the guys don’t seem alarmed.

While I am a big advocate to excellent healthcare for women, I do think that there should be some movement to get guys to start getting annual physical exams after the age of forty years old to minimize the risk of heart disease, cancers and stroke.  It breaks my heart when you hear of another middle aged man dying suddenly of a heart attack or getting an essentially preventable cancer.   While there has been some improvement in cardiovascular disease treatment, there is much work to be done.

While guys don’t want to go to the doctors, because I specialize in primary care sports medicine, they will see me without a stigma.  Since I am board certified in both sports medicine and family medicine, I wear two hats and “sneak in” preventive primary care medicine whenever I see a man for his latest injury as a weekend warrior.  There are gynecologist for women but there are no “guyologist” for men. I consider myself a “guyologist”.  My hope for this book is to break down the barriers to care for guys.  I am obviously kidding when I say that women don’t care. We have a rule in the locker room that we can tease about stuff that is not more than 10% true. So women really do care, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like they do.  Guys are even worse.

So the first step to solving a problem is always recognizing that there is a problem.  I think we as doctors need to do a better job at meeting the needs of men who are at significant risk for heart disease, cancer and stroke. The best way to treat disease is to prevent disease and do it in away that encouraged men to become lean,fit and flexible.

Gerardo “Jerry” Hizon,MD, www.ouch1.com

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