Life in the 21st century isn't easy. Among the stressors: a lack-luster economy, rising health care and college tuition costs, companies that are constantly downsizing and housing that isn't affordable. Emotionally and physically, men are uniquely impacted by the stress. They have more heart disease (coronary artery disease takes the lives of twice as many men as women and manifests itself a decade earlier too), are more prone to high blood pressure at younger ages, and commit suicide because of depression at higher rates.

And while life expectancy has increased, men continue to be notorious in their avoidance of regular doctor visits. A startling 24 percent are less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year. Of course hearing phrases like: "Tough it out!" and "man up" throughout their lives doesn't help.

According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, modern men can expect to live until the age of 76.2 but that's nearly 7 years less than women. Sadly, the top three killers of men—heart disease, lung cancer, and prostate cancer—are treatable if found in the early stages. Other top killers include: stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accidents, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, suicide, kidney disease, and chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. Smoking, a main cause of lung cancer, makes up 28 percent of all cancer deaths and is to blame for nearly 90 percent of the lung cancer problem.

Here's a look at men's health by the numbers:

22: Percentage of men who neglect having their cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. (Experts advise having a simple blood test to check cholesterol beginning at age 35 but sooner if you have certain risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, family history or a body mass index, BMI, of 30 or over.)

28: Percentage of men—compared to 22 percent of women—who are likely to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure.

20: Percentage of people with high blood pressure who are unaware of their condition. For an adult age 20 or over, a healthy blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mm Hg. According to the American Heart Association, medication and a treatment program may be recommended for people whose blood pressure readings stay over 140/90 mm Hg. About one in three U.S. adults have high blood pressure, which often has no symptoms but can cause permanent damage to the body's organs. Experts recommend yearly readings starting at the age of 20.

30: Percentage of prostate cancer in men under 65.

32: Percentage of men who are likely to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes.

2: Number of times men are more likely than women to have their leg or foot amputated due to complications related to diabetes.

24: Percentage of men likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia that could have been prevented with a flu shot.

40: Age that African American men—or other at risk groups (those with a family history, for example)—should beginning having annual prostate cancer screening tests.

50: Age that men should have a prostate screening test including a simple blood test of PSA levels as well as a colonoscopy.

45: Age that men should inquire about taking a daily aspirin to lower their risk of heart attack. Blood sugar levels should also be evaluated at this age.

30 million: Number of men who suffer from erectile dysfunction.

23: Number of times more likely a man who smokes is to develop lung cancer than the rest of the population (women who smoke are 13 percent more likely).

6 million: Number of men who suffer from depression.

24,000: Number of depressed men and boys who take their own lives annually because of depression.



American Heart Association
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

American Lung Association
Lung Cancer Fact Sheet

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Life expectancy by county and sex (US) with country comparison (Global), 1989, 1999, 2009

Men's Health Network
Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

National Institutes of Health
Men's Health

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Get the Preventative Medical Tests You Need

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
High Blood Pressure Facts

American Urological Association
Erectile Dysfunction: Sexual Health Series