Press release

Middle-aged men rate their health as more important than their money or career

National Heart Month 2016: new research shows a discrepancy between how much men value their health, and what they do to look after it.

Blood pressure check

There may be a discrepancy between how much men value their health and what they do to look after it, according to new research from Public Health England:

  • three quarters (74%) of men in England aged 40 to 60 place their health in the top three most important things in their life
  • only a third (35%) feel confident that they know all the risk factors for heart disease
  • six out of ten (58%) men believe their health will get progressively worse, regardless of whether they live a healthy lifestyle

When asked to choose the top 3 most important things in their life, three quarters (74%) of men aged 40 to 60 ranked their health in the top 3, compared with only 32% selecting leisure time, 31% choosing wealth and less than a quarter stating their career (23%).

Despite this, 64% identify themselves as overweight, and only 28% think that men of their age do regular exercise with the aim of staying healthy. In addition only a third (32%) think that men their age check themselves regularly for signs of ill health.

Although many men are aware of many of the risks associated with heart disease, including high cholesterol, less than half (46%) had their cholesterol checked in the last year, and around a third (31%) either couldn’t remember or knew that they had never had a cholesterol check. Only a third (35%) feel confident that they know all the risk factors for heart disease.

For National Heart Month 2016, Public Health England is encouraging men aged 40 to 74 to take up their invitation for a free NHS Health Check appointment. The Check is an opportunity to assess their cardiovascular health and lower their risk of developing preventable conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer and dementia.

Many men have little expectation of how much they can influence their future health, despite the fact that it is possible to reap the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices at any age. Around 6 out of 10 (58%) believed that as they get older their health is going to get worse, regardless of whether they lead a healthy lifestyle.

The NHS Health Check is designed to help lower the potential of developing conditions in the future, and offers follow up lifestyle interventions where necessary as well as important physical checks such as cholesterol and blood pressure testing.

Jamie Waterall, National Lead for the NHS Health Check Programme, Public Health England, said:

It is clear that men, as well as women, should be doing something to reduce the major risks to their health, such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, drinking too much and not being active. They need to know that all these lifestyle choices - things they can do something about - will have a huge impact on their health

The NHS Health Check gives people the opportunity to evaluate their risk at an age when their chances of developing serious conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer and dementia really do increase. We also know that by taking action earlier or getting help, people can significantly reduce or manage their risk of these preventable diseases.

Mark Webb, 45, from Southwark, London, said:

I was diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure after having an NHS Health Check. I went straight to my doctor who put me on medication to control it. I received advice on lifestyle changes including eating healthier food and doing more exercise. Without the Check I would have had no idea of the danger I was in, as I had no symptoms. I believe it saved my life and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to have one.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said:

Coronary heart disease is still the single biggest killer in the UK and more than 1 in 7 men die from it.

Risk factors such as high blood pressure, being overweight, lack of physical activity, diabetes and high cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease.

We urge everyone over 40 to have a free NHS Health Check to understand their risk of developing heart disease and make any necessary lifestyle changes.

ENDS

Public Health England press office

Background information

  1. Interviews were conducted with 359 men aged 40-60 in England from 25 August to 1 September 2015, using OnLineBus, the TNS internet omnibus survey.

  2. The NHS Health Check invites people between 40 and 74 years old every five years for an appointment, as long as they do not have an existing vascular condition.

  3. See the NHS Health Check site.

  4. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for deaths among men and women aged 15 to 49 years in the UK. Public Health England’s latest Health Matters: alcohol dependence is a resource available for health professionals, on harmful drinking.

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Twitter: @PHE_uk, Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland.

Published 9 February 2016