It will happen to us all eventually, but health experts say unless Kiwi men make lifestyle changes they will vastly outnumber the women knocking on death's door.
A Ministry of Health report shows while death rates are as low as they have even been since mortality data was collected, men are far more likely to die of preventable causes than women.
Heart Foundation medical director Professor Norman Sharpe said it is a gap that will continue to widen as a "new wave" of health problems caused by obesity start showing up in the statistics.
The latest mortality data, gathered from death certificates and post-mortem examinations, shows there were 28,641 deaths registered in New Zealand in 2010.
While the number of actual deaths is increasing, up 8 per cent since 1990, this was because of a growing and ageing population.
Death rates overall have dipped about 35 per cent, meaning statistically we are more likely to survive to a ripe old age.
But the new figures also highlight the difference in mortality rates between the sexes, with 461.9 deaths per 100,000 males compare to 330.2 deaths per 100,000 females.
And Maori have higher death rates than non-Maori across all age groups.
The big five causes of death are all forms of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, other forms of heart disease, and respiratory diseases.
Men are up to twice as likely to die from preventable illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, with these obesity-related illnesses widening the mortality gap between the sexes.
In 2010, the male rate of death from coronary heart disease was 85.3 percent higher than the female rate.
Professor Sharpe said while deaths from heart disease had dipped slightly since 2009, an upswing was expected.
"There's a new wave coming through, starting now. Twenty to 30 years ago we didn't have obesity, we didn't have that as a risk factor - but now it's coming through with diabetes hot on its heels."
Public health initiatives like heart and diabetes checks were making a difference, but the higher rates among Maori and Pacific Islanders and those living in poorer regions areas needed to be targeted, he said.
When it comes to dying in motor vehicle crashes and suicide, the gender gap becomes a chasm. Men are three times as likely to die in a car crash and more than twice as likely to kill themselves.
Mental Health Foundation policy director Hugh Norriss said the foundation was always grappling with how to encourage men to reach out for help.
"One of the reasons it's thought men commit suicide at a higher rate is due to the way men and women are socialised," she said.
"Men are less comfortable with talking about their emotions, so when they are struggling they have less chance to talk it through."
Canterbury Men's Centre manager Donald Pettitt said men's health problems were part of a legacy of neglect by the public health system.
Australia introduced a National Male Health Policy in 2010 and the same thing was needed to fix health disparities here, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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