By DR GREGGORY PINTO
Bahamian men notoriously take poor control of their health. Many Bahamian men rarely have annual health physicals and often make negative lifestyle choices. Silent health killers sadly continue to lead to the early and usually preventative deaths of hundreds of Bahamian men every year.
The four main silent health killers for Bahamian men are prostate cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
1 Prostate cancer
One in six Bahamian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. More than 200 Bahamian men die from prostate cancer every year. Men of African ancestry often have a more aggressive form of prostate cancer than other racial counterparts and the disease often is diagnosed six to seven years earlier than in Caucasian men. Obesity is a risk factor for a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. The BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations have a relatively high incidence in Bahamian society. A Bahamian man with a BRCA gene 1 mutation has a four times greater chance of having prostate cancer before the age of 70 years old and for the BRCA 2 gene mutation, the increased risk is eight-fold.
Prostate cancer if diagnosed at an early stage, can have a 99 percent prostate cancer specific 10-year survival rate.
Early prostate cancer often has no symptoms and only advanced prostate cancer usually presents with symptoms, once the disease has spread and metastasized throughout the body.
Early diagnosis is the key to an excellent potential cure rate.
It is imperative to have annual Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests starting at the age of 40 years old. Research supports the fact that annual PSA screening can reduce prostate cancer deaths by at least 25 percent.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, and it is well known to be a silent killer, with no symptoms of uncontrolled blood pressure until often, irreversible damage has already been done to various bodily organs.
Long standing hypertension could lead to erectile dysfunction, kidney failure, cardiac failure, stroke among multiple devastating health consequences. Sudden acute spikes in blood pressure could also be fatal or lead to severe medical morbidities.
Many Bahamian men are at risk for developing high blood pressure because of poor lifestyle choices, an unhealthy diet, an inactive sedentary existence and obesity.
It is far too common an occurrence for Bahamian men to choose to not be complaint with prescribed high blood pressure medication.
Proper control of hypertension could prevent serious negative health issues and lead to greater longevity.
3 Heart disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for Bahamian men. Heart disease is a broad medical term that includes the various cardiovascular disease conditions such as angina, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, congestive cardiac failure and cardiac arrhythmia.
Heart disease is truly a silent killer with few to no symptoms until the disease has advanced.
Many Bahamian men have risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Annual or bi-annual health physicals, compliance with prescribed medications, regular exercise, a healthy well-balanced diet and not smoking nicotine products could all significantly reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease.
Erectile dysfunction is often an early warning sign of heart disease as 70 percent of men with erectile dysfunction have or will develop some element of heart disease.
The Bahamas has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in not just the region but the world. One in seven Bahamian men have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Poorly controlled diabetes could potentially lead to devastating health consequences such as infected diabetic foot, diabetic retinopathy affected eyes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, diabetic cystopathy leading to impaired ability to empty the bladder, amongst many other negative health consequences.
Diabetics have a four times higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction and erectile dysfunction presents on average 15 years earlier in diabetics when compared to non-diabetics.
Annual health physicals are essential for men so that silent non communicable diseases can be detected early and managed effectively. Bahamian men should be screened for type 2 diabetes starting at age 40, and even at an earlier age if there is a family history of diabetes, a history of hypertension, obesity or a history of high cholesterol.
Screening for colorectal cancer should happen in all men 45 years old and older.
Bahamian men need to realise that they may unknowingly suffer silently with no symptoms from common health disorders such as prostate cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and colorectal cancer.
If you have not had an annual physical in the past year then please do so as having annual physicals and taking appropriate health care actions may potentially add years to your life and improve the quality of health for the years that you do live.
Seek completely confidential, compassionate and comprehensive urological care for erectile dysfunction.
• Dr Greggory Pinto is a Bahamian urologist who has trained in South Africa, Germany, France and India. He is a member of the European Association of Urologists. Dr Pinto can be reached at Urology Care Bahamas at the Surgical Suite, Centreville Medical Centre, Collins Avenue and Sixth Terrace. Call 326 1929, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.urologycarebahamas.com.