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For Release: June 9, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahoma Men Called to Focus on Cardiovascular and Reproductive Health -- Celebrate Men’s Health Month, June 2009

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is celebrating National Men’s Health Month, June 2009. The theme, “Stay Tough! Stay Healthy!” helps call attention to the importance of men’s health.

“We want to encourage men to make their health a top priority. Men are more likely than women to be uninsured or underinsured,” said Interim State Health Commissioner Rocky McElvany. “Men need to visit their doctor and make sure their health screenings, tests and immunizations are up-to-date.”

Men often forget that preventive healthcare such as testicular self-exams, PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood tests, colo-rectal cancer screenings, cholesterol and blood sugar checks are an important part of staying healthy. When a man is healthy, he reduces his likelihood of illness, injuries and depression, and he has lower absenteeism at work and may have reduced healthcare costs.

Specifically, Oklahoma is ranked 48th in the nation for cardiovascular disease death rates among men (402.7 deaths per 100,000). One in four Oklahoma men who die from heart disease will die before age 65. Stroke is also a primary health issue for Oklahoma men, with one in five deaths from stroke occurring before age 65.

Risk factors associated with these high rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke in Oklahoma include tobacco use, obesity, and physical inactivity, which contribute to the high mortality rates in Oklahoma, according to public health officials.

Another important men’s health issue is reproductive health for men. More than half of the live births in Oklahoma were reported as unintended pregnancies. Effective family planning is crucial to reduce this high percentage.

“We believe there is a great need for more education for men of child-bearing age to understand their reproductive health and how to plan and prepare with their partners to have a healthy pregnancy and raise a healthy baby,” McElvany said.

National Men’s Health Month also provides an opportunity for individuals to learn about the Strong and Healthy Oklahoma Initiative, which challenges all Oklahomans to eat better, move more and be tobacco free.

County health departments, Turning Point, and other community organizations have planned numerous activities in observance of National Men’s Health Month. Individuals are encouraged to contact their county health department to learn more about local events.

In Oklahoma City, the OSDH has partnered with INTEGRIS and the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce for the 2009 Men’s Health University: “Poke-N-Run” to be held Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to noon at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center. Many health screenings will be available including prostate screenings; prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood tests; skin, oral and colorectal screenings; and cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and EKG screenings. At each health screening station, participants will receive a playing card. The person with the best poker hand will win the grand prize, a large outdoor grill and supplies, from a local vendor. The South OKC Chamber will begin their actual poker run at noon and all motorcycles will leave from INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center. Cancer screenings will be by appointment only. Call the INTEGRIS HealthLine at (405) 951-2277 to make your appointment.

A toolbox for community organizations interested in planning an event for National Men’s Health Month is available on the OSDH Web site at http://mchs.health.ok.gov.

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