linked in pixel
Man looking at phone walking around in the city

Men's Life Expectancy in the United States: Why Is It Lower Than Women's?

Pinterest Logo

Some men are notorious for skipping their doctor’s appointments and not making health a major priority in their lives. A visit to the doctor may not even happen until the symptoms become severe, let alone having a yearly check-up.

In 2022, 1,715,561 men died in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also said that in 2022, men’s life expectancy was 74.8 years, while women’s life expectancy was 80.2 years. There are several risk factors to consider when trying to determine why the life expectancy of men tends to be shorter than women.

What are the top causes of death in men?

Heart disease is the No. 1 leading cause of death in men, followed by cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, suicide, respiratory infections (i.e., influenza and pneumonia), and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

These 10 risk factors can contribute to a short life expectancy, especially if taking care of one’s personal health is not a priority. It is important for men to understand the risks that come with smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, and even participating in activities that could involve unintentional injuries. Some popular hobbies men like to take part in have a great chance of accidental injury, including playing certain sports such as skateboarding, skiing, biking, fishing and hunting, to name a few. Professionally, men may have a job that puts them in situations where accidents or injuries are more likely to occur. These professions can include law enforcement, fieldwork, military, construction and firefighting.

Important ways for men to stay healthy

It is important to keep up with annual appointments with your primary care physician, and this is especially the case for men. By having a yearly exam, you increase your chances of preventing illness. Nine out of the 10 of the leading causes of death in men have to do with chronic (or ongoing) disease, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Men aren’t as invincible as they would like to seem, and that’s OK. Perhaps being strong means admitting it’s important to take care of yourself whether you're feeling ill or not.

In addition to an annual visit with a primary care physician, current preventative medicine guidelines recommend that men have a yearly blood pressure check and cholesterol screening at least every five years. A discussion regarding prostate screening and colon cancer screenings should begin at 45 years of age.

To prioritize health and self-care, men should refrain from smoking and drinking, maintain a healthy, balanced diet, and avoid processed foods. A healthy, balanced diet is especially important for men with diabetes. By limiting stress and being physically active, men can decrease cholesterol levels, which can adversely affect heart health.

Part of maintaining good health is taking care of your mental health. It may be surprising to hear that men are more likely to commit suicide than women. If you are feeling depressed or experiencing symptoms of mental illness, reach out for help. No one is alone. Walking, exercising and connecting with your support system can aid in maintaining good mental health.

Men can begin caring for themselves by scheduling an appointment and establishing a relationship with a primary care physician You are more likely to share symptoms and other concerns with a physician with whom you are familiar. Having a community of friends, family and a care team to support you through all phases of life can be fulfilling in more ways than one.

Schedule an appointment and learn more about Marlon Joseph, MD.

You may also be interested in: