It is important for men to pay attention to their health. Major health risks that men face include colon cancer, obesity and heart disease. These can be prevented, treated and diagnosed early during screening tests.
Men should visit their healthcare provider regularly even if you are feeling healthy. Working with your provider and letting them get to know you and your health can help avoid future problems. Your provider will screen for medical issues, access your risk for future medical problems, encourage a healthy lifestyle, and update your vaccinations.
Yearly wellness exams are encouraged. A physical exam of your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) is checked at every exam. Your provider may also ask you about depression, diet and exercise, and alcohol and tobacco use. Your blood pressure screening is an important part of each visit because the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems in the future. If your blood pressure is high, this puts extra strain on your arteries and on your heart, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
A cholesterol screening may be included in your yearly visit. If you have high cholesterol levels, the deposits can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which may cause complications in the future. If the arteries that supply blood to your heart are affected, you may end up with coronary artery disease or even a heart attack. Another important screening is a diabetes screening. These are usually done if you are over the age of 45 or at an earlier age if you are overweight. Many people with diabetes don’t know they have it, so a screening is very important. If diabetes goes undiagnosed, you may suffer damage to various organs, especially, the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels.
If you are under the age of 50 and have a strong/early family history of colon cancer or polyps, you should be screened for this type of condition. Otherwise, screenings happen between the ages of 50 and 75 for those at average risk. Screenings for cancers of the colon and rectum can be proven lifesavers since it can lead to the detection and removal of polyps, which may progress to cancer.
Prostate cancer screening utilizing the blood test (PSA) for average risk men is no longer indicated. You should discuss the pros and cons of PSA based prostate cancer screening with your physician. Immunizations are another way to keep your health in check. You should get your flu shot every year as the flu spreads easily. Your provider may recommend other vaccinations if you have certain medical conditions or of a certain age.
Paying attention to your health and determining your risk factors for certain illnesses and diseases can help you live a longer, healthier life. The most important thing you can do for your health is visit with your primary care provider about your risks and how you can live a healthy life for yourself and your family.
(Brandon Price, DO, is a family medicine physician at CHI St. Alexius Health Mandan Medical Plaza. Dr. Price graduated from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in family medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN)