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Men’s Health: What every man needs to know


peo clinic logoMany men (and women, for that matter) do not like to go to the doctor or to receive routine health screenings, but maintaining one’s health is critical to ensuring a good quality of life. African American men have the highest risk (compared to men of any other racial/ethnic groups) of developing many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Let’s talk about the important things every African American man should know about his health.

Prevention is Key

Many diseases can be prevented by having good health through:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a healthy, low fat and low salt diet;
  • Engaging an active lifestyle by doing regular physical activity – a minimum of 20 minutes of moderate physical activity per day and muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days/week;
  • Not smoking/quitting smoking/avoiding secondhand smoke;
  • Having regular well checkups with your healthcare provider; and
  • Encouraging other boys and men in your life, young and old, to live a healthy lifestyle.

Protect Your Heart

Did you know that African Americans die from heart disease at a 30 percent higher rate than Whites? Fortunately, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease. For one thing, it is critical to maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level, as high blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant contributor to heart disease (as well as stroke and other problems). Hypertension means that your blood pressure is greater or equal to 140/90 mmHg. For adults with diabetes, blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg. Pre-hypertension, a risk factor for hypertension, is defined as having a systolic (upper number) blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg or a diastolic (lower number) blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg. Next, keep your cholesterol in check. Manage your diabetes. Finally, maintain a healthy weight: eat a nutritious diet and be active.

Control Your Diabetes

African Americans suffer from diabetes at a higher rate and are more likely than non-minorities to develop its serious and life-threatening complications. If you have diabetes, it is very important to keep your blood sugar under control.

Take Care of Your Emotional Health

More than six million men each year are diagnosed with Depression, a real, treatable medical condition. Symptoms of depression include: Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities,.Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down.” Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions, difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping. Appetite and/or weight changes, thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts; restlessness, irritability.

If you have been feeling any of these symptoms that persist, you should talk with your health care provider as soon as possible. Depression can be successfully treated, and the sooner you start treatment, the more likely you will have a positive outcome.

Maintain Your Sexual Health

Did you know that Non-White males are significantly more likely to contract a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI, also called STDs) compared to Whites? The most common STDs among US Men are: HPV, genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that 19 million new STD diagnoses occur each year. Nearly a quarter, or 25 percent, of new cases occur in adults under the age of 30. Exposure to STIs can have lifelong consequences; increase your risk of many health problems, including certain cancers. STIs can also affect your fertility, and if you pass an STI to your partner (particularly female partners) it can affect their ability to become pregnant and carry a healthy child to term. Avoiding risky sexual behaviors and maintaining your sexual health is essential to maintaining good overall health.

Do you need further information, need resources in your area or have questions or comments about this article? Please call the Maya Angelou Center toll-free at (877) 530-1824 or check out Or, for more information about the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity please visit our Web site: