Health matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.

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AS part of our ongoing series of health columns, Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire, including Buxton and the High Peak, looks at men’s health.

National Men’s Health Week was first held in June 2002 and since then it has grown steadily in size and impact. In the past 10 years, the campaign has provided a focal point for individuals and organisations with an interest in improving men’s health.

This year focuses on heart health in men. There are some worrying facts when it comes to the health of men’s hearts.

Did you know that:

* Men aged 35-64 are about four times more likely than women to die from heart disease.

* Men in occupations defined as ‘routine’ are almost three times as likely as ‘high managerial and professional’ men to die from heart disease.

* Men are almost twice as likely as women to develop angina and one-and-a-half times more likely to experience heart failure.

* Men are more likely than women to smoke, drink alcohol above recommended levels, and have a poorer diet.

The good news is there a number of things you can do to help reduce your risk of heart disease:

* Eat a healthy balanced diet, a low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.

* Be more physically active, regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system and work more efficiently. This will lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

* Eating healthily and being physically active will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy bodyweight, which in turn helps reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

* It’s important if you are a smoker that you give up smoking. This will reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing hardening of the arteries. Research has shown that you are up to four times more likely to successfully give up smoking if you use NHS support. Ask your doctor about this or visit NHS Smokefree at http://smokefree.nhs.uk/

* Try to reduce your alcohol consumption and avoid binge drinking. Excess alcohol consumption will increase your blood pressure and make you fat, and that’s without mentioning the effects it will have on your liver and other major organs.

For further information on men’s health in general visit the website:

http://www.menshealthforum.org.uk.