Men’s health screenings —a matter of life or death

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Our list of recommended men's health screenings that cannot be ignored.  

Did you know that men die at higher rates than women of most leading diseases including heart disease cancer and stroke? On average American men live sicker and die younger than American women and men die an average of 5 years earlier than women.

This could be attributed to the fact that women are 100% more likely than men to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventative services.

June is Men’s Health Month - a good time to encourage the men in our lives make their health a top priority. Of course exercising, eating well, getting enough rest, minimize stress and tossing out the tobacco are all ways that we can work toward better health, but seeing a doctor for regular check-ups and screenings seems to be an area that men could use a little extra nudging.

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Get Preventive Tests

Screening tests can detect diseases early, when they’re easiest to treat. Talk to your doctor about which preventive medical tests you need to stay healthy.

Body Mass Index

Your body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. It is used to screen for obesity. You can find information on calculating your BMI on our website CLICK HERE

Cholesterol

Every 5 years, all adults should have a lipid profile, a cholesterol test that assesses all the components of cholesterol: total, HDL or good cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The link between high cholesterol and the increased risk of heart disease is well established, so these tests can help determine your risk.

Once you turn 35 (or once you turn 20 if you have risk factors like diabetes, history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure, or BMI of 30 or over), have your cholesterol checked regularly.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force that’s applied to the heart and vessels as blood is pumped into the heart chambers and out into the vessels of the body. In a blood pressure measurement, the first number (systolic) is the rate at which the blood flows through your arteries during a contraction of the large chambers of the heart (ventricles), and the second number (diastolic) is the pressure measured at rest when the ventricles are filling. For example, a typical blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).

By checking blood pressure regularly and following your care provider’s advice regarding diet, exercise, medication, and risk-factor reduction, you can help control your blood pressure and stave off heart disease.

Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years. High blood pressure increases your chance of getting heart or kidney disease and for having a stroke. If you have high blood pressure, you may need medication to control it.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a broad term to describe a mix of many diseases and illnesses that affect heart health. There is really no cure for heart disease, but prevention and screening are the best tools for delaying the onset or minimizing the damaging effects.

Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and Check your blood pressure regularly. Stop in to your doctor for a quick BP check, or take advantage of the free machines at your local pharmacy or grocery store.

If you have diabetes, make sure that you keep your blood glucose under control. Poorly controlled diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Beginning at age 45 and through age 79, ask your doctor if you should take aspirin every day to help lower your risk of a heart attack.

Colorectal Cancer

Beginning at age 50 and through age 75, get tested for colorectal cancer. You and your doctor can decide which test is best. How often you'll have the test depends on which test you choose. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be tested before you turn 50.

A complete colonoscopy and examination of the intestines are done using a flexible lighted scope while you’re under mild sedation. People age 50 and older should have this test done every ten years—and more frequently if you have a family history of colon cancer or a previous abnormal colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths among all adults, and a colonoscopy offers the best opportunity to detect cancer at an early stage, when successful treatment is likely. Some cancers may be prevented by detection and removal of polyps.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men. Each year, men age 40 and older should have:

  • A prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening test. The PSA is a simple blood test that in some cases can detect cancer in the prostate before signs and symptoms are present. The only problem is that it isn’t always accurate. A man can have prostate cancer and still have a normal PSA. The PSA can also be abnormal when cancer isn’t present thanks to certain infections, inflammation, and benign enlargement of the prostate. Therefore, the PSA shouldn’t be used as a diagnostic tool, but it can be helpful to monitor the treatment of prostate cancer.
  • A digital rectal exam. This test is done to assess the size of the prostate and palpate for any other abnormalities, such as pain or masses.

You must have both of these tests—a blood test alone isn’t a definitive diagnostic test. Trust the doctor—if the PSA blood test was accurate enough, doctors would be the first to tell you that you don’t need to have a rectal exam. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Have both tests. Early diagnosis and treatment greatly increase the success rate of a cancer cure.

Other Cancers

According to the CDC, 300,000 men in America die from cancer every year. The most common kinds of cancer among men in the US are skin cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer

Ask your doctor if you should be tested for prostate, lung, oral, skin, or other cancers.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted diseases.

HIV

Your doctor may recommend screening for HIV if you:

  • Have sex with men.
  • Had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • Have used injected drugs.
  • Pay for sex or have sex partners who do.
  • Have past or current sex partners who are infected with HIV.
  • Are being treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.

Diabetes

If your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes.

Fasting blood sugar should be measured every three years, starting at age 45, to screen for diabetes mellitus, one of themost commonly undiagnosed diseases. Certain risk factors such as family history, excess weight, and inactivity raise your chances of developing diabetes. Untreated, the complications can be serious; diaetes can cause severe kidney nerve, eye, heart and blood vessel damage. But early diagnosis and treatment can greatly reduce risks of complications, improve your health, and control the diabetes.

Tobacco Use

Smoking increases the risks for the top three killers: heart disease, cancer and cardiovascular ailments, including strokes. It also damages your lungs and other parts of your respiratory system. At least 60 chemicals in cigarette smoke cause cancer, and as a cigarette burns, it produces the poisons carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, and cyanide.

Smoking raises your blood pressure and decreases the flow of oxygen to your brain and body. It’s also a significant risk factor for other health concerns, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, stroke and osteoporosis.

Oral tobacco use is the number one risk factor for oral cancer which is the 6th most common cancer in men. Choosing to quit oral tobacco use will reduce your chances of contracting the disease.

If you smoke or use tobacco, talk to your doctor about quitting. For tips on how to quit, go tohttp://www.smokefree.gov or call the National Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW.

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Sources:

http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/menshealthfacts.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/index.htm

*Agin, B., & Perkins, S. (2008). Healthy aging for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub.

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