For immediate release: June 12, 2014
June, the official start to summer, conjures lazy days, lawnmowers, hamburgers, summer heat and backyard barbeques. It's dad stuff. And in honor of dads – and Father's Day – here's advice from AtlantiCare experts who are also dads in-the-know
"Men often overlook the need to see a primary care provider, but getting regular check-ups is one of the most important things you can do for your health," says Edward H. Lee, MD, physician, AtlantiCare Physician Group Primary Care. "Eating well and exercising are good daily goals. Knowing your health risks and your family history, and establishing a base-line of health lays a foundation for your future health, and allows your healthcare provider to better understand and treat health issues should they arise."
Fabio Orozco, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, the Rothman Institute at AtlantiCare, knows what it's like to balance a career and a family life. With four sons – ages seven, six, five and two – and a busy work schedule – he performs nearly 800 hip and knee replacement surgeries annually at the Joint Institute at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus. He makes the most of his waking hours. "My kids are the most important thing in my life," the surgeon says. "Spending quality time with them is always my priority. Where possible, I organize my work schedule around my kids' activities, not the other way around."
As an active athlete and someone who knows first-hand the impact exercise can have on joints, Orozco recommends a moderate workout. "Men are sometimes inclined to push themselves to extremes," he explains. "It's much better for your body – your joints and your heart – to work out with weights that are appropriate to your fitness level, to perform more repetitions, and to gradually increase the weights only as essential. Large amounts of weights aren't necessary for a healthy workout, and can be detrimental to your joints."
For Orozco, an active lifestyle has many benefits. "My wife and I try to instill this in our children. We limit their screen time, instead encouraging them to find active hobbies. They play baseball, basketball and soccer. For me, getting outside and playing sports with my sons is one of my favorite things to do. It's quality time we spend together, and it keeps them active. It keeps me healthy, so that I can spend time with my family. And it sets a good example for them, helps them build a healthy, active lifestyle that, I hope, they will carry with them throughout their lives. Kids learn by example."
The decisions a man makes early in life - in his 20s and 30s – have significant influence on his health later, according to Brian Steixner, MD, urologist at ARMC Medical Staff and father of two. "Testosterone has a direct impact on men's bone health, energy levels, and sexual function. Testosterone levels peak, for most men, in their early thirties and slowly decrease every year thereafter," Steixner explains.
"Men of all ages can optimize their health by establishing and maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress. Depression raises the risk of low testosterone. As you age, your physician can help you navigate testosterone replacement therapy, if that's the right course for you," he says. "Following a regular exercise routine, drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet will naturally build energy levels and allow men to keep up with young children and a busy work schedule."
Heart disease, diabetes, and an increased risk of certain cancers are all associated with a high fat diet, lack of exercise and alcohol and tobacco consumption, says the urologist. "The seeds of erectile dysfunction that manifest at age 50 and beyond are often sown when men are in their 30s and 40s. Avoiding fatty foods, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, heavy alcohol consumption and smoking and adhering to a healthy lifestyle will not only improve your quality of life as a younger man, but have important health implications years down the road."
"For years, the majority of my bariatric patients have been women," says Alexander Onopchenko, MD, director, AtlantiCare Physician Group Surgical Services, and medical director, Center for Surgical Weight Loss & Wellness, ARMC. "Men tend to feel that being 'big' is ok, but morbid obesity affects the sexes fairly equally. In fact, having an "android" distribution of fat – being apple-shaped, as more men tend to be – is linked to more significant health problems and to the potential for metabolic syndrome, which can increase at-risk patients' likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack at a younger age than they would have without metabolic syndrome."
Patients with a BMI of 40, those with medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea and a BMI of 35, and for whom other methods of weight loss have not worked may consider bariatric surgery. "Sleeve gastrectomy, a stomach-reducing operation, has attracted an increased number of men to the option of bariatric surgery with excellent outcomes," Onopchenko adds. "Other men who are overweight or obese but do not qualify for surgical intervention should adhere to a low calorie, high protein, low fat diet and exercise. Even men who are healthy and within the recommended BMI range should monitor their weight to avoid potential health concerns."
Sanjay Shetty, MD, cardiologist, AtlantiCare Physician Group Cardiology, notes that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men in the US: according to the CDC, heart disease was responsible for 307,225 male deaths – or 1 in 4 – in the US in 2009. "The heart is the epicenter of a healthy life. The ability to exercise is contingent upon your heart health, and diet has a direct impact on your heart's function," he explains. "There is much you can do to prevent heart disease, and ways men living with heart disease can improve their health and keep the disease in check. Recommendations for weight, cholesterol and blood pressure vary by age, so check with your PCP and cardiologist. All men should strive to have a BMI within the range of 'normal' – 18.5 – 24.9. Know your family history, the signs of heart disease and heart attacks, and your personal risk for heart attack. Children need fathers to guide them. Your heart health is an important piece of the overall health that allows you to spend time with your family."
So, dads, raise the grill tongs in salute to Father's Day. Here's to happy, healthy men, and the families and friends who love them.
For more information about how AtlantiCare can help you or the dad in your life be healthier, visit www.atlanticare.org, call the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000 or find AtlantiCare on Facebook.
Jennifer Tornetta, (O) 609-569-7010, (C) 609-335-3446,
AtlantiCare is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,221 employees and more than 700 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare's Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.
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