7 reasons why men die earlier than women, beyond COVID-19

Men die earlier, Dr Ounnas a Harley Street and NHS GP examines the reasons and what can be done?

There is no doubt whatsoever that our lives post COVID-19 will never be the same again. The novel virus has certainly invited us to reflect on life in general and forced us to examine and revisit certain issues. It has now become common knowledge that men seem to do worse than their female counterparts in terms of survival of COVID-19. This prompted me to think about the wider picture of why men die earlier and what can be done about it. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. So, let’s examine together the 7 biggest killers that favourite and target men:

1-Heart Disease: Men seem to be genetically more predisposed to killer heart disease. This has been attributed in studies to having lower oestrogen levels that women. Another reason, seems to be storing fat in more vital organs such as your heart or liver as opposed to women who store it where we could annoyingly see it. You cannot do much about that, that is just nature! Now, for the good news what about the things you could do? and I know you boys like “to do things” and take action. You can certainly visit your doctor and ensure you have a good blood pressure and Cholesterol control. Having these two under control, will reduce your risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes. We need a whole other post on that!

2-Mental Health: Statistics show that men are more likely to die due to exacerbated mental health issues. This unfortunately include suicide, alcoholism and social isolation. We need a dedicated post to this too, please look out for it. For the scope of this blog post, I would advise, please start talking, visit your doctor and speak to us about how you feel and do not let social norms of toxic masculinity rob you of the opportunities of health, happiness and life. Mental health is key to all three.

3-Metabolic Syndrome: Many of you reading this post will be fit city boys living at the gym and on protein shakes, if so please skip this section, I apologise in advance! However, for those of you who have more trouble controlling weight and are on long hours in desk jobs, I totally empathise with the time poverty and the entertaining clients habits, that might have contributed to your current shape. What I would tell you is that obesity, which is more prevalent in males than females works against male longevity. It leads to conditions like Diabetes and fatty liver, which increase your susceptibility to many other diseases, as we have unfortunately noted with the COVID-19 pandemic.

4-Occupational Health issues: Men tend to have more dangerous and sometimes more manual jobs than women. Please follow your employers health and safety advice and wear your protective gear. If you are uncertain, you can ask your local Occupational Health department or speak to an Occupational health doctor privately. Alternatively, visit the HSE-Health and Safety Executive- website to learn more about safety and risk reduction in your particular line of work.

5-Behavioural issues: Oh boy! how do I write this section without offending anyone or get accused of sexism or lack of PC. Just remember, I have your best interests at heart and my aim is to genuinely advise you on how not to die earlier than you should. I’m not being patronising or Miss always right! Well, I could be, but here I’m writing in my capacity as a doctor. So, yeah the motorbike? the going over the speed limit? the few extra beers with the boys? There is some research that suggests the part of the brain that controls judgment and consideration of an action’s consequences, called the Frontal lobe, develops slower in boys and younger men than in girls of the same age. The good news, is that it seems to even out eventually and older men do catch up with women of the same age. So, it’s not all bad news, but seriously? for now, wear a helmet and don’t drink and drive. The UK Alcohol units weekly limit is still 14, whether or not your mates agree!

6-Respiratory viruses: If only this has not been done to death recently in the news. In summary, men seem to have a weaker immune response to respiratory viruses, not just this novel virus but also previous Corona viruses diseases and the so called Man Flu. We need another post for this.

7-Avoiding doctors: Now for the big one! I cannot count the number of times I have seen patients who started the consultation with “My wife/daughter/mother told me to come in”. Of course, if you skip health checks and do not address the problems early, they escalate and by the time you seek medical help, the prevention boat could have already sailed! Now, this one is definitely avoidable! Come on boys, it does not have to be this way!

So, there are many reasons why men die younger, but it does not have to be this way, many are preventable. I’m determined to do my part for you. There will be further posts on this. Please join me in sharing the hashtag I named #Bluestethoscope which will mark all posts designed for mens’ health that extend beyond getting your annual sexual health screen. Your health deserves to be addressed holistically head to toe. It’s not your biological destiny to miss out on longevity, do not just accept that. It does not have to be this way!

From a female doctor who believes we are all in this together, take care and let me see you in the City Gent Health assessment, in your next GP appointment or in my next post here. Would love to hear your thoughts!

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