National Men’s Health Week: Take Charge of Your Health

National Men’s Health Week is June 15-21 this year! This health initiative serves as a reminder for men to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. There are many different ways men can take charge of their health, which vary by age group, family history, and more. Below are a few healthy habits to try incorporating this year:

  • Active lifestyle
  • Healthy eating
  • Reducing stress
  • Quitting smoking
  • Preventive screenings
  • Yearly checkups

The physicians at Vascular & Vein Institute of Siouxland specialize in treating many conditions, some of which affect more men than women. Keep reading to learn more about abdominal aortic aneurysms and carotid artery disease.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is the 15th leading cause of death in the US. An AAA is an enlarged area in the lower section of the aorta, a major blood vessel that runs from the heart through the abdomen. 

Patients are twelve times more likely to develop an AAA if a first-degree relative has had one. Other risk factors include being a man aged 60+, a smoker, and Caucasian.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms often don’t cause any symptoms and are found while the patient is being evaluated for another condition. For those that do show symptoms, the following are common:

  • Deep, persistent pain in the abdomen or on the side of the abdomen
  • Back pain
  • A pulse near the belly button

Learn more about abdominal aortic aneurysms on our blog All About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms.

Carotid Artery Disease

While carotid artery disease doesn’t necessarily affect more men than women, it is a leading cause of strokes, a condition which is responsible for a high number of male deaths each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strokes were the 5th leading cause of death for men of all ages in 2017 – accounting for 4.3% of all deaths that year. Approximately 700,000 strokes occur each year and according to the Society for Vascular Surgery, carotid artery disease is responsible for up to one-third of all strokes.

This disease occurs when plaque builds up inside the carotid arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the head, causing the arteries to become stiff and narrow, and making it difficult for the blood to flow normally.

There often aren’t any signs or symptoms in the early stages of this disease, letting it go undetected until a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief stroke-like episode, or stroke occurs. Common symptoms of a TIA or stroke include:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, often only affecting one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes

Learn more about carotid artery disease on our blog Carotid Artery Disease: What You Need to Know.