This week is National Men’s Health Week, and it ends on a day dedicated to the men who need to be reminded of their health the most: our fathers.

Not surprisingly, June is also Men’s Health Month, dedicated to heightening “the awareness of preventable health problems” and to “encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys,” The Men’s Health Network said on its website.

All across the country, health care providers, policymakers, the media, and individuals are getting together to raise awareness of Men’s Health Week. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, for example, is promoting a Meatless Monday in an effort to raise awareness of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer — some of the leading causes of death in America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, killing 307,225 in 2009, or one of every four men in the U.S. What’s worse, half of the men who die suddenly from coronary heart disease had no symptoms before the event — and 70 to 89 percent of these sudden cardiac events occur in men.
The most common risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, but diabetes, obesity, a poor diet, excessive alcohol use, and a lack of physical activity also contribute. And many of these problems also develop as we age.

Unfortunately, men can be prideful about their health or scared to hear bad news, and subsequently forgo medical exams or treatment.

If left unmanaged, death is certainly the end result, but other problems can cause pain and suffering. Diabetes alone can lead to problems like hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, which can lead to a range of symptoms including shakiness, lightheadedness, coma, and seizures. Men who don’t take care of their diabetes may also end up with erectile dysfunction and amputated limbs.
Although these are some of the more extreme complications of disease, the key to avoiding them is getting checked yearly, at least. But doctors can only do so much.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is perhaps the best thing anyone can do. Quitting smoking, being physically active, getting good sleep, eating healthy, and avoiding stress are all essential.

These issues become even more important for those who are retired, as having less work to do means a lot more free time. Getting up and out, and keeping the mind active is of the utmost importance when it comes to staying on top of health. If you want to see what you can do for Men’s Health Week, look at a list of events here.