5 health conditions men need to know about

Get to know these conditions that are much more likely to affect men than women

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man heart doctor

Heart disease

Heart disease, also called coronary artery disease, is the number-one killer of Canadians. The basic mechanism of heart disease is a buildup of cholesterol-laden plaque (a fatty deposit) inside the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Plaque narrows the inner channel of the vessels and makes them less flexible. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. As normal blood flow to your heart is restricted, you may experience angina (chest pain). If a clot forms or lodges inside a narrowed artery, it can completely cut off blood flow and cause a heart attack. Heart disease is often “silent”-producing no symptoms-until it causes a heart attack.

Both your genes and your lifestyle habits contribute to heart disease. Risks include:
Gender: Men are more vulnerable to heart disease than women.
Being over age 55 or post-menopausal for women.
Family history of heart disease.
Personal history of a heart attack.
Ethnicity – people of African, Latin American, or Asian descent.

Learn more about heart disease

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man and doctor health prostate men

Parkinson’s Disease

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are so subtle and develop so slowly that it usually takes 5 to 10 years before you know there’s a problem. Even then, this disease can almost always be managed, often for decades, with specialized medications and good self-care.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you are probably already displaying some symptoms: maybe a slight trembling (tremor) in your hands, legs, or face, or muscle stiffness, coordination problems, or a slowness of movement (bradykinesia). These and other Parkinson’s symptoms indicate that nerve cells (neurons) in a relatively tiny part of your brain called the substantia nigra have started to die off. This causes a drop in dopamine, a nerve chemical that carries the signals that allow your muscles to move quickly and smoothly.

Parkinson’s disease usually occurs between the ages of 55 and 70, and men get it slightly more often than women.

Learn more about Parkinson’s Disease

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man upset stomach

Ulcers (Peptic)

A peptic ulcer is an open sore in the lining of your stomach or duodenum (the upper part of your small intestine). Its immediate cause is your own digestive juices-hydrochloric acid, an enzyme called pepsin, and other chemicals your stomach secretes to break down food (see illustration below). Even though these juices are as corrosive as battery acid, the linings of your intestine and stomach usually are protected by a layer of mucus and other defenses. If those defenses fail, you may get an ulcer, which most commonly announces itself with bouts of gnawing pain in your upper abdomen.

Ulcers afflict about 1 in 5 men and 1 in 10 women at some point.

Learn more about ulcers

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Colon Cancer

Colon cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control and form a mass, or tumour, in your large intestine. Doctors often refer to it as “colorectal cancer” because a malignancy can arise in either the colon or the rectum. (The colon is in your abdomen. It leads to the rectum, which is just above the anus.)

Many colorectal cancers begin in a polyp that eventually forms a tumour. Left untreated, the tumour can bleed, obstruct your intestines, or break through your bowel wall. In time, cancer cells may spread to lymph nodes or to other organs, such as the liver or lungs.

Usually slow-growing, colorectal cancers often originate in a cell with genetic mutations. Some people inherit genes that allow cells causing colon cancer to develop. More often, the abnormalities arise for unknown reasons, though diet appears to play an important role.

Learn more about colon cancer

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Kidney Stones

It seems amazing that something so tiny can cause so much suffering. But while a small minority of people are genetically destined to develop a kidney stone, some simple lifestyle changes may greatly reduce your odds of getting one.

Your kidneys are meant to efficiently flush microscopic particles of salts and minerals into the ureter-the long, narrow tube that leads to the bladder-and they’re expelled when you urinate. Trouble looms when chemical imbalances and other processes cause these tiny particles to bind into crystals, which grow into a kidney stone. When the stone moves from the kidney into the delicate ureter, it produces anything from a nagging ache to excruciating pain, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. This blockage may trigger a urinary tract infection. Sometimes stones get stuck in the kidney, causing an infection but not usually immediate pain.

10 percent of men will develop kidney stones over their lifetime, and most get them between ages 30 and 50.

Learn more about kidney stones

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