Let’s start with the basics. Men in general live sicker throughout their lives and die younger than women. In 1920, women outlived men by only one year. Today, men die five years earlier. More than half of all premature deaths among men are preventable. In general, men have poorer health habits and are less likely to take preventive health steps than women. Men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a health care provider in the past year. When they do get medical attention, they often cancel follow-up appointments, don’t finish their prescriptions, and play down the seriousness of illnesses and diseases. The doctors point out that the life expectancy for men is at least 5 years less than it is for women, and men are about 60% more likely than women to die of heart disease and over 40% more likely to die of cancer.
Most men avoid addressing their health issues as long as possible, and they are more than three times more likely to avoid the doctor for more than 5 years. Two-thirds of men would not seek a health care professional if they were experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, two early warning signs of a heart attack. Many men refuse to attend annual exams and they delay treatment for problems as long as possible. Rather than make appointments to see their family doctor on a regular basis, men are often more likely to make excuses for not going.
Men and women are slightly different when it comes to health motivation. While there is some overlap between the two genders, men are less likely to be motivated by external factors like body weight, body composition, appearance, and clothing size. We often use the analogy that our bodies are a lot like our cars. But the only difference between a car and your body is you only have one body. More than 80% of men could remember the make and model of their first car, but only about half could remember their last check up with a doctor.
The reasons men give for avoiding check ups are raising a few eyebrows.
The top excuse men make to avoid scheduling annual appointments with their primary care physician, is that they are too busy. The second most common excuse men make is that they are afraid of finding out something might be wrong with them. Men also say that they are uncomfortable with certain body exams such as prostate checks, which rounds up the top three excuses.
In their 20s, men are too tough to see a doctor. In their 30s, they’re too busy to take time for preventive care. In their 40s and beyond, they’re too afraid of what they might find out. But that preventive care is important for everyone — even if they feel fine — because it catches problems early, when they’re easier to treat.
Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before you have symptoms, when they’re easier to treat. With early detection, colon cancer can be nipped in the bud. Finding diabetes early may help prevent complications such as vision loss and impotence. The tests you need are based on your age and risk factors.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. After cancer develops, it can invade or spread to other parts of the body.
Screening begins at age 50 in average-risk adults. A colonoscopy is a common test for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. A doctor views the entire colon using a flexible tube and a camera. Polyps can be removed at the time of the test.
The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Men are also 2-3 times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell skin cancer than women are. A regular skin exam by a dermatologist or other health professional should be part of a routine checkup. Treatments for skin cancer are more effective and less disfiguring when it’s found early.
The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm — dangerous ballooning of an artery. But it can be treated. When it is, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The bottom line: Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your doctor to manage it.
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries. This increases your risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis — hardening and narrowing of the arteries — can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke.
The fasting blood lipid panel is a blood test that tells your levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). The results tell you and your doctor a lot about what you need to do to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Starting at age 20, men should be screened if they are at increased risk for heart disease. Starting at 35, men need regular cholesterol testing.
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina, nerve damage, and impotence. This doesn’t have to happen. Especially when found early, diabetes can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications. Healthy adults should have the test every three years starting at age 45. If you have a higher risk, including high cholesterol or blood pressure, you may start testing earlier and more frequently.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s in the blood and other body secretions of infected individuals, even when there are no symptoms. HIV-infected individuals can remain symptom-free for many years. The only way to know they are infected is with a series of blood tests
Glaucoma — this group of eye diseases gradually damages the optic nerve and may lead to blindness — and significant, irreversible vision loss can occur before people with glaucoma even notice any symptoms. Screening tests look for abnormally high pressure within the eye, to catch and treat the condition before damage to the optic nerve.
Eye tests for glaucoma are based on age and personal risk:
Under 40: Every 2-4 years
40-54: Every 1-3 years
55-64: Every 1-2 years
65 up: Every 6-12 months
Everybody between the ages of 40 and 74, who has not already been diagnosed with certain long-term health conditions or have certain risk factors is entitled every five years to a free check to assess their risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes.
Even if you feel perfectly healthy, you should see your provider at least once a year for a checkup.
Check with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re getting:
* A flu shot—every year in September or October before the flu season starts.
* The shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine—once when 60 or older
* Pneumonia vaccination—once after age 65 (your healthcare provider may suggest that you also get “booster” pneumonia shots every 6 or 7 years).
* A combination tetanus/diphtheria booster shot— every 10 years.
* Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening—once between the ages of 65 and 75 if you’ve ever smoked. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged or swollen blood vessel in your abdomen that can be dangerous. If your healthcare provider finds you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, it can be treated.
* Bone health evaluation—periodically. Your healthcare provider should evaluate your risk of osteoporosis.
* Blood pressure check—at least once a year.
* Cholesterol test for high blood cholesterol levels—at least once every five years (more often if heart disease or diabetes runs in your family).
* Diabetes check—at least once; if you have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol levels, or diabetes runs in your family, get checked every three years.
* Screenings for prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. You should talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about these screenings.
* Other screening tests—as recommended by your healthcare provider.
By taking better care of themselves men can boost their odds of living healthier, longer lives. Prompt medical care can make a big difference — sometimes, the difference between life and death. Don’t wait. Get Checked Out!
Some of the most common medical office visits and health issues for men include:
- Comprehensive physicals.
- Cardiovascular evaluation.
- Cancer screening.
- Prostate cancer screening, PSA.
- Sexual health-erectile dysfuncton, low libido, premature ejaculation.
- Asthma, COPD and respiratory disorders.
- Gastrointestinal conditions-GERD, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer detection.
- Urinary tract symptoms.
- Immunization updates.
- Common Conditions /Disease management.
- Seniors/Geriatric Care.
- Children’s Health/ Pediatrics.
- DIAGNOSTIC TESTS/ MONITORS.