Last week I attended a Men’s conference in Wyoming as a guest speaker on men’s health. The keynote speaker was a Colorectal Surgeon who was speaking about Colon Cancer, his talk was thorough, informative, and the questions asked by the men in attendance were as expected.
What struck me as concerning was a slide he presented that showed the number of deaths per year from Colon Cancer was approximately 50,000/year men and women combined. Alarming to me was that I was getting ready to talk about heart disease in men where the death rate is approximately 450,000 deaths per year in men alone! What a contrast, and it made me think, why is it that men are more afraid of getting “Cancer” to the point that they will have a Colonoscopy done, but choose not to see a physician for a comprehensive cardiac evaluation early in their life to prevent a death from heart disease, which is statistically more likely to happen?
Remember, 70% of men who present to the Emergency Department with Acute Coronary Syndrome had no clue they had heart disease. How can this happen, when the ability to identify those at risk is so readily available, and the disease so easily preventable?
The answer is we have failed to convince men that heart disease is preventable, and we have created an illusion that if you do not engage in unhealthy practices and you are “fit” your risk of heart disease is low. How many of us have heard stories of the middle-aged tri-athlete who collapsed and died during a competition. How does this happen? The answer is that the risk factor for which the athlete died from was not identified, most likely because he may not have ever felt he needed to see a Doctor or his Health Care Provider did not recognize the problem and failed to get appropriate testing.
Get in early, identify your risks and treat them! Don’t let your Doctor minimize the importance of this disease. Demand more, ask for the most up to date tests to assess your risk, and ask for the best treatment that can be done with regular follow up visits to determine the effectiveness of your interventions.
Every man deserves this, heart disease is preventable. If we as physicians are doing our job in preventing heart disease, there should be no more invasive interventional stenting, or bypass surgeries. What an accomplishment for health care if we could decrease the death rate from heart disease to less than 50,000/year.