June is Men’s Health Month: Get Checked
June 8, 2020 by Colin Weerts, DO
Did you know that men die an average of 5 years younger than women? The top two leading causes of death for men are heart disease and cancer. You can change these statistics by taking control of your health.
When’s the last time you came in for a check-up? A yearly check-up is key to good health. These visits include regular screenings so we can catch health issues at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems. At your annual check-ups, we can detect high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can put you at risk for heart and cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
Your blood pressure should be taken at least once a year because it’s an important indicator of your health. Known as the silent killer, high blood pressure usually has no symptoms until after the damage is done to the heart and arteries.
Every 4-6 years beginning at age 20, a blood test is recommended to measure total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. If you have a family history of heart disease or you are at an increased risk for heart attack or stroke, we may want to test you more frequently.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend a blood glucose test to screen for type 2 diabetes. When left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems including cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Many men postpone check-ups because they don’t want to hear the bad news. But when we catch the signs early, lifestyle changes work best and can prevent problems from worsening. You can improve your heart health and reduce your risks for cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes by making small changes in your daily life. And prevention is a lot easier than managing advanced conditions.
- If you smoke, vape or chew, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to help you quit.
- A modest weight loss of 5-10% can improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, a 5% weight loss is 10 pounds.
- Increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk products. Trade out steaks and burgers for lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish and beans. As you increase your fruits and veggies, it may be more manageable to eat less meat and potatoes. Try ordering a side salad with your sandwich instead of chips or fries.
- Be realistic about physical activity especially if working out has taken a back seat to family and work. Don’t expect to run or lift the way you could in your 20s. Walking or biking combined with strength training twice a week is a good starting point. Work your way up to 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or a mix of the two each week. Check with your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program.
Your regular check-ups include routine cancer screenings for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and if you have smoked – lung cancer. Mankato Clinic follows recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Task Force for routine screenings.
At age 50, we will talk with you about prostate cancer screening and a colonoscopy, earlier if you are African-American or have a family history. A colonoscopy is the only screening that can prevent colorectal cancer by removing pre-cancerous polyps. When we detect prostate or colon cancer early, treatment tends to be easier and more effective.
So man up and schedule your annual check-up. Call your primary care provider. Don’t have one? Click here to find a primary care provider.