Too many men die young from preventable causes – WHO

By June Shannon Heart News   |   19th Sep 2018

The main causes of death for men aged 30–59 were cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and respiratory illnesses.

The first ever World Health Organisation (WHO) report on men’s health and well-being has found that too many men are dying young from preventable causes.

The WHO report, which covers 53 countries of the WHO European Region, also found that while overall men were living healthier and longer lives than ever before, despite this progress, many of them die far too young from preventable causes.

The findings revealed that approximately 86 per cent of all men’s deaths can be attributable to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries which hit men at a younger age.

Noncommunicable diseases also known as chronic diseases are those that are not passed on from person to person and tend to be long lasting. They include heart disease, asthma, diabetes and cancers.

Smoking was responsible for the death of 1 million men in 2016

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The main causes of death for men aged 30–59 were cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and respiratory illnesses. In some countries in the eastern part of the WHO Region, men’s risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular diseases was seven times greater than in the western part.

In the eastern part of the Region, 37 per cent of NCD-related deaths occurred before the age of 60, compared to just 13 per cent in western Europe.

The report also found that about three-quarters of men who died in road traffic were under the age of 25.

According to the report, men’s higher exposures to risk factors have been observed for so long that they are almost considered biologically determined, but differences between men across the Region show that they are not.

It found that gender norms and societal expectations influenced men’s higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and injuries as well as their higher engagement in interpersonal violence compared to women. Men’s health also deteriorates because of unhealthy diets, which also differ between countries in the Region. For example, the risk of high-level consumption of salt is higher in central Asia, while the leading risk in western Europe is diets low in fresh fruit and vegetables.

The report also revealed that smoking was responsible for the death of 1 million men in 2016 in the European Region and ranks as the leading health risk factor among men in western and central Europe.

Alcohol and drug use are the leading risk factors in eastern Europe and cause 24 per cent of men’s years lost while in central Asia, the main health risk factor is unhealthy diet, to which 17 per cent of men’s years lost can be attributed.

“There is strong evidence of the influence of gender stereotypes for high-risk behaviours such as smoking and alcohol consumption increasing men’s incidence of cardiovascular disease,"

Enda Campbell, Workplace Health Promotion Officer, Irish Heart Foundation

The report also found that men were often less likely to consult GPs than women. For example, men facing serious emotional problems and symptoms of depression often remain undiagnosed because they do not take these medical conditions seriously and are not as used to reaching out for help.

Failure to recognize mental health problems contributes to increasing suicide rates, which are five times higher for men aged 30–49, than for women the same age, according to the WHO report.

The new findings are prompting calls to use a gender approach to get men’s health on the agenda of health policy-makers in the European Region.

The report “The health and well-being of men in the WHO European Region: better health through a gender approach” will be officially launched in Rome in Italy this week to delegates at the WHO’s decision-making body for the European Region. The 53 Member States are expected to adopt a new regional strategy to address men’s health challenges.

According to Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, “The European Region is setting an example through an impressive reduction of premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). However, too many men are still not reached by health services and die young from these diseases, as well as injuries. The new report helps us to understand their specific needs and how we can provide gender-appropriate interventions for men that will also help us to meet the Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality,”

Commenting on the report Enda Campbell, Workplace Health Promotion Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “There is strong evidence of the influence of gender stereotypes for high-risk behaviours such as smoking and alcohol consumption increasing men’s incidence of cardiovascular disease. The success of our Farmers Have Hearts programme shows the value in delivering gender-appropriate programmes to higher-risk groups.”

Irish Heart Foundation – Farmers Have Hearts

 

The Irish Heart Foundation’s “Farmers Have Hearts” programme has been running for over 5 years offering free health checks to farmers in Marts, Glanbia sites and with the IFA.

Research commissioned by the Irish Heart Foundation showed that 80 per cent of farmers had four or more risk factors for heart disease and stroke which is of serious concern, as 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease is preventable through lifestyle changes.  The Irish Heart Foundation’s mission is to lead the fight to save lives and we see the importance of reaching farmers in their own setting, to raise awareness and support them to make changes for their heart health.

Jim Geraghty was at our “Farmers Have Hearts” day in Tullamore and had his health check done by an Irish Heart Foundation nurse, the nurse found his pulse was irregular and advised Jim to see his GP. The GP diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation.  Jim is delighted he had his health check as he knows this has reduced his risk of stroke and heart disease.

 

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alcohol. heart. stroke cardiovascular disease healthy eating healthy living heart men men's health smoking stroke

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