Today's Medicine

4 Reasons to Focus on Men's Health

It may come as no surprise. Men are much less likely than women to have preventative health care exams. But maybe they should…

Risky behavior

According to the CDC, a good percentage of men participate in activities that contribute to the leading causes of death in men – cardiovascular disease and cancer.

  • 45 percent of men don’t engage in enough physical activity
  • 35 percent of men are obese
  • 18 percent of men smoke
  • 32 percent of men drink more than five alcoholic beverages in one day

Scheduling a preventative health exam with your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care physician can help you focus on the top four things you need for better health.

1. Protect Your Heart and Blood Vessels

Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years if you are healthy and under the age of 40. If you are over the age of 40 or have risk factors for heart disease, including being overweight, then get your blood pressure checked every year.

Check a fasting cholesterol. This should be done at least once in your 20s and then every few years depending on your results and risk factors for heart disease.

Calculate your body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is greater than 25, your doctor can help identify ways to improve your diet and exercise regimen to get you back to a healthy weight.

Check for diabetes with a fasting blood sugar if you are over the age of 40 or have risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or are overweight. Diabetes checks should be repeated every three years if normal.

Consider a baby aspirin (81 mg) once daily to protect against heart disease. Discuss with your doctor if this is a good strategy to reduce your risk of heart attack.

Quit smoking. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s not uncommon to need 30 quit attempts before being successful!

Screen for an aortic abdominal aneurysm with ultrasound if are you between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked. This can be an easy way to identify an often fatal cause of internal bleeding.

2. Protect Yourself against Cancer

Review options and a timeline for colon cancer screening. The age to start screening can vary widely based on risk factors, but everyone should be screened by age 50. How often to repeat screenings depends on how you were screened and results of the test.

Consider lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan if you are 55-74 years old, a current or former smoker who quit within the past 15 years, and have smoked approximately one pack a day for 30 years.

Discuss the risks and benefits of PSA. PSA is the blood test used to screen for prostate cancer. This can be a very individual decision, and your doctor can help you decide if this is right for you.

Get a skin check. Men are more likely than women to have skin cancer and complications from it.

3. Detect and Prevent Infection

Check for Hepatitis C if you are a baby boomer born between 1945 and 1965, or have risk factors for acquiring the hepatitis C virus.

Get screened for HIV. The CDC recommends everybody under the age of 65 be tested for HIV at least once, regardless of risk factors.

Stay vaccinated. Preventative health care exams are a good time to review with your doctor if you are up-to-date on tetanus, influenza, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines.

4. Care for Your Mental Health

Discuss your mood. Six million men suffer from depression every year. If you are losing interest in your hobbies or are feeling sad or hopeless, talk with your doctor.

Screen for substance abuse. Get connected to the resources you need to help combat addiction.

Taking the first step

Your doctor can be of great help in reducing risk factors and arranging for screening tests and vaccinations to reduce complications from and early death associated with cancer, heart disease, infections and mental illness. Creating a relationship with a provider will help make it easier for you to talk about the health issues that concern you the most.


About the Author

A child of a military family, internal medicine physician Dr. Shana Peper was raised to be selfless and do whatever she could to help others.

She treats a wide range of patients at Methodist Physicians Clinic Indian Hills.

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