DODGING THE DOCTOR: Real men get an annual check-up

DODGING THE DOCTOR: Real men get an annual check-up
By: La Porte Hospital Last Updated: June 16, 2019

Research shows that men are four times less likely to consult a doctor when they experience medical problems. As a result, men are much more likely to need an emergency admission to a hospital with a serious or life-threatening condition that could have been prevented or dealt with at an earlier stage. Many of the health issues that affect men are preventable, which makes these tests and an annual checkup, even more important.

Here are a few of the recommended screenings for men:

BLOOD PRESSURE

Why:Keeping a close eye on blood pressure levels can help with early detection of hypertension or pre-hypertension. If left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack, heart failure, strokes and kidney disease.

When:Healthy men should have their blood pressure checked once every two years. Even men with normal blood pressure readings can develop high blood pressure in middle age and later in life.

CHOLESTEROL

Why:According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with high cholesterol have about twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels. Lowering cholesterol can reduce the risk of having a heart attack, needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, and dying of heart disease.

When:Men should have their cholesterol checked every five years beginning at age 35 – or younger if he is a smoker and/or has diabetes, high blood pressure, or a genetic predisposition to heart disease.

DIABETES

Why:The rate of diabetes has dramatically increased. Of the 29.1 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes (about one out of 11 people), one out of four don’t know they have it. In the beginning, symptoms are so mild, the disease often goes undetected or is mistaken for some other ailment. Other health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, increase the risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes can cause problems with the heart, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.

When:Men age 45 or older should be screened for diabetes every three years, according to the American Diabetes Association. If a man is overweight, has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, his doctor may advise screening at a younger age. Individuals with prediabetes should be checked for type 2 diabetes every one to two years after initial diagnosis.

ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM TEST

Why:The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when an area of the aorta becomes very large or balloons out. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to burst. This can be life-threatening. Aneurysms can develop slowly over many years, often with no symptoms. While the exact cause is unknown, factors that can increase the risk of developing the problem include male gender, smoking, high blood pressure, and certain genetic factors. An AAA is most often seen in males over age 60 who have one or more additional risk factors.

When:The good news is that an ultrasound can detect AAA. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends screening for men between 65 and 75 who have ever smoked (at least 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime).

PROSTATE CANCER

Why:Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. The disease is rare before age 50, and, when caught early, (i.e., while symptoms are limited to the prostate), is usually curable. Age is a big risk factor for prostate cancer. More than 70 percent of all men are diagnosed at age 65 or older. The most common test is the digital rectal examination, a simple screening test in which a doctor checks the prostate gland for any abnormalities that may indicate the beginning of cancer.

When:A prostate check is usually performed annually, as part of a man’s annual physical, beginning at age 50. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should discuss beginning screening at age 45.

COLORECTAL CANCER

Why:According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in U.S. men and women. But if caught early, colorectal cancer is one of the most curable cancers. A colon screening provides both diagnosis and treatment, since any polyps found are removed and analyzed as part of the exam.

When:All men should have a colorectal exam, which includes several tests to check the colon and rectum, beginning now at age 45. If there is a family history of colorectal cancer, screening should begin ten years earlier than the age at which the relative was diagnosed. The frequency of repeat exams depends on individual risk level.

Importance of the Annual Check Up:

All of these tests circle back to the importance of visiting your primary care provider once a year for a checkup. Your provider will keep tabs on your age and what tests are needed, as well as your family history and possible predisposition for certain diseases. If you need a family physician to meet your health needs, visit either LaPortePhysicianNetwork.com or call (833) LPN-DOCS (576-3627).