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Men’s Health – Regular Health Screenings Make a Difference

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While the thrill of risk can be exhilarating, your health is one area you don’t want to leave to chance. And for men, who often take this gamble, experts caution that ignoring regular check-ups and preventive screenings can potentially lead to serious issues.  

So, why do many men skip out on preventative care? Bernard Morris, Jr., MD, board-certified urologist with Wellstone Health Partners, weighs in.

“When it comes to prevention and health, the main issue for men is their reluctance to take time out for themselves,” said Dr. Morris. “A typical man in his prime earning years who is busy at work, putting kids through college or feeling invincible, will tend to put off things like age-appropriate screenings.”

Screenings for Every Man

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top causes of death among adult men in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. Yet, many of these areas are often preventable through ongoing, proactive screenings and conversations with physicians.

“When you get a man to come in for an appointment, it’s an opportunity to discuss age-appropriate screenings for the common problems that exist,” said Dr. Morris. “For example, when a man comes to me for erectile dysfunction, which is very common, I often use that moment to advise on the significant correlation with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes.” And, he said, because erectile dysfunction can be an indicator of severe cardiac disease, simply having this discussion helps men understand the importance of making time for routine check-ups.

Several significant screenings to assist men in becoming attuned to their health, include:

  • Blood pressure screening – High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, therefore, men 40 and older should get their blood pressure checked every year.
  • Cholesterol test – Beginning at 35, men should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years.
  • Blood glucose test – To check and monitor for signs of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, healthy men should be tested every three years starting at age 45.
  • Colorectal cancer screening – The American Cancer Society recommends colonoscopy screenings to begin at 45. Other agencies recommend beginning at age 50. Talk with your doctor to determine the right screening schedule for your care.
  • Weight and height check – A healthy body mass index, or BMI, is between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • Prostate cancer screening – Beginning at age 55, men should discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctors. If African American or a man with a family history of prostate cancer, screening should begin at age 45.

“Prostate cancer, for example, is a slow growing problem, and it’s important to aggressively screen younger men who are healthy and at risk,” said Dr. Morris. “If detected early, we have ample time to treat in a very manageable and curable state. So, getting men screened when they feel well is the opportunity. If you wait until prostate cancer causes symptoms, you may be too late to do something about it.” And, he said, when a doctor says it’s time for a screening, remember, it’s because the data shows that you will benefit from the screening.

Preventive Measures to Start Today

In addition to routine physicals, healthy lifestyle choices are also key to prevention. “For many of the medical diseases we treat, 90 percent of the treatment is related to what you learned in elementary school,” said Dr. Morris. “Eat your vegetables, go outside and exercise, stay hydrated…all the common sense things, but habits are hard to change, too.”

But the good news? It’s not too late to begin making health a priority. 

“The main thing is to commit to yourself the importance of doing at the very least an annual exam, having a primary care doctor and do an age-appropriate screening for all men’s issues,” said Dr. Morris.

To set up an appointment with a Wellstone Health Partners physician, call 254-518-4230.