Men’s Health Week 2024: Know Your Numbers

This Men’s Health Week 2024, June 10th to 16th, the theme is, “Know Your Numbers.” The focus is on an essential aspect of health awareness and how men can take charge of their health by being informed about their numbers.

Why Men’s Health Matters

Men’s Health Week is an annual event dedicated to raising awareness about health issues that affect men and to encourage men to take proactive steps towards better health. In many societies, men are often less likely to visit the doctor, discuss health issues, or engage in preventative health measures. This reluctance can lead to late diagnoses and poorer health outcomes. By highlighting the importance of “Knowing Your Numbers,” the aim is to break this cycle and promote a culture of health consciousness and proactive care among men.

The Importance of Knowing Your Numbers

“Knowing your numbers” refers to being aware of critical health metrics that can provide early warning signs for a range of health issues. These numbers include cholesterol levels, blood pressure, sugar levels, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). Understanding these numbers can help men make informed decisions about their lifestyle, diet, and when to seek medical advice.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often called the “silent killer” because it typically has no symptoms until significant damage has been done to the heart and arteries. Regular monitoring can help detect hypertension early, allowing for timely intervention through lifestyle changes and medication.

The HSE’s advises a normal blood pressure reading should be 120/80.

Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood that, in high levels, can lead to heart disease.

There are 2 main types of cholesterol:

HDL (high-density lipoprotein, also known as ‘good cholesterol’) – HDL cleans up cholesterol left behind in the arteries. It brings it back to the liver, where the liver gets rid of it.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein, also known as ‘bad cholesterol’) – LDL sticks to the walls of arteries and causes plaque. Plaque can build up causing arteries to narrow and sometimes they get blocked. This causes heart disease (such as atherosclerosis, angina or heart attack).

Total cholesterol level includes LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol).

Knowing your cholesterol levels helps assess the risk of cardiovascular issues and prompts necessary dietary and lifestyle modifications to keep your heart healthy. The risk of coronary heart disease is particularly high if you have a high level of LDL cholesterol and a low level of HDL cholesterol. 

Guidelines from the HSE state your total cholesterol level should be 5.0 or less.

Sugar Levels

Monitoring sugar levels is crucial for preventing and managing diabetes. High sugar levels can indicate prediabetes or diabetes, conditions that significantly impact overall health and require careful management.

The HSE recommend sugar levels of 5.6 or less.

Waist Circumference

Waist circumference is another indicator of health, particularly related to the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Excess fat around the waist is a risk factor for several serious conditions.

For men the HSE recommend a waist circumference no more than 94cm.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Maintaining a healthy BMI can reduce the risk of various health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

HSE guidelines state that a healthy BMI ranges between 18.5 – 24.9.

Taking Action

Understanding these numbers is the first step, but taking action based on this knowledge is crucial. Here are some steps which men can take to ensure their health counts:

  1. Regular Check-ups: Schedule annual health check-ups with a primary care physician. These visits can help monitor key health metrics and catch potential issues early.
  2. Healthy Diet: Adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit intake of saturated fats, sugars, and salt.
  3. Exercise Regularly: For men aged 18-64 aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, five days a week (or 150 minutes a week).
  4. Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol: Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can significantly improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  5. Manage Stress: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or hobbies that promote relaxation.
  6. Stay Informed: Educate yourself about men’s health issues and stay updated with the latest health guidelines and recommendations.

Know your numbers, take action, and make this Men’s Health Week the start of a healthier life journey!

Don’t hesitate to call into your local Adrian Dunne Pharmacy for a free blood pressure check, support and advice on your journey to a healthier life. Find your local Adrian Dunne Pharmacy here.