Helping Rural Men Prioritize Their Health

A farmer with his son

Agriculture and rural communities have a long history of strong men and father figures.


While their immense contributions to community and family are invaluable, the image they’ve created has in turn perpetuated a need to nurture and maintain the reputation for strength and fortitude. The stereotype continues in rural areas, often to the detriment of men’s health.


The “grin and bear it” philosophy means delayed diagnoses and treatments and less of a likelihood to have regular, consistent medical care. Bayer aims to support men and their health from the start, with a multi-pronged approach that begins with education and early intervention.


Unfortunately, many of the top conditions affecting men take a silent approach, making the avoidance of care even more significant. Prostate cancer, for example, usually doesn’t cause symptoms in its beginning stages. Blood tests or digital rectal exams can detect it in the earliest stages. While prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, it is still the fifth leading cause of death from cancer in men. Bayer has made a lot of advances in this area by developing an alpha-particle emitting radioactive therapeutic agent for the treatment of prostate cancer and radiology products to advance prostate cancer diagnosis before symptoms appear. 

Likewise, chronic kidney disease slowly and silently affects people. Its symptoms – nausea, fatigue, swollen feet – can easily be written off to the results of a long day in the field or on the job. Like prostate cancer, blood tests or physical exams by a primary care provider are key to diagnosis, making rural healthcare even more important.

High blood pressure is actually known in the medical community as the “silent killer.” That’s because for the most part, high blood pressure has no obvious signs. Left untreated, high blood pressure can increase risk for stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and heart failure. Regular, consistent care from a physician who knows the patient and can observe any small changes can prevent blood pressure from going unchecked, potentially saving lives.

Atrial fibrillation is another silent, potentially deadly condition affecting men. Often, atrial fibrillation can begin without warning and without symptoms, lasting for months before a person feels its effects. When symptoms do appear, they can include: irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain. Some men have reported first noticing a difference in their smart watch readings. People with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to suffer a stroke than people without atrial fibrillation. And, atrial fibrillation-related strokes are also associated with a 50% likelihood of death within one year.

In fact, stroke is the leading cause of death in men, and it’s also a leading cause of disability. The good news: About four out of five strokes are preventable. The bad news: Most men don’t know how to recognize or prevent them. And the rates of rural healthcare are lower than the rest of the country, making death or disability from stroke in rural communities an even greater possibility.


FAST is the acronym promoted to recognize symptoms and speed up stroke treatment. Quick response is critical for stroke survival and to minimize lasting effects. It’s an easy acronym to remember:
F – Face – Does one side of the face droop when smiling?
A – Arm – Does one arm drift downward when both arms are raised?
S – Speech – Is speech slurred or strange when repeating a simple phrase?
T – Time – Time is critical in stroke. Call 911 as soon as you see these symptoms.


Thankfully, medical advancements like those at Bayer have expanded the stroke treatments available, including clot-busting interventions and medicines. Bayer offers a product that may help men treat strokes, and continues to focus on advancing stroke treatment. 

As rural communities carry on their mission to feed the world, Bayer is focused on supporting their efforts. We continue to advocate for more nutrition and healthcare support in outlying areas, and to raise awareness among the rural population of the importance of regular, consistent healthcare to help men live a long, productive, healthy life.