Men’s Health: Prevention is Best Medicine
June 14, 2021 by Richard Peller, MD
When younger men come to see me, it’s usually one of three things. Their brother or father was diagnosed with a medical condition. A male friend or family member has died. Or their wife made the appointment.
Men don’t like going to the doctor. It’s against our nature. Unfortunately, delaying routine check-ups can result in bigger health problems.
In routine check-ups, your doctor can get to know you better and understand your health concerns and risks. We talk about your health, your health history, medications and your family medical history. Check-ups can help us detect issues early and prevent problems down the road.
It’s like having a leaky roof. If you can fix the leak when it’s small and get on it early, you can take care of things fairly easily. If you wait for the leak to get bigger, it can do a lot of damage to your home and cost a ton of time and money to fix. The same goes for health issues that are left untreated. The health problem can get bigger, affect your whole body and be more difficult to treat.
We encourage men to begin seeing a primary care provider in their 20s. As men get older, we want to see you a bit more often. Our joints start aching a little more, we see a little more heart disease and our risks for cancers increase with age. During check-ups, we tell you if it’s time for routine cancer screenings for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer if you have smoked.
Here are some ways we help men stay healthy.
Heart and Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is the number one killer of American men and women. Even young and middle-aged men can develop heart problems. We pay close attention if you have a family history of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. In routine check-ups, we also look for warning signs such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
We’d rather see you before you have a cardiac event. Because we can help prevent it.
To improve your heart health, we will want to get you active and exercising. Weight loss – even as little as 5% of your total body weight – can have big health benefits. If you weigh 200 pounds, 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. If necessary, we may prescribe cholesterol or blood pressure medications.
Diabetes is another common disease that increases your risk for heart attack and strokes. Diabetes can also significantly affect your quality of life. We want to keep your quality of life as good as possible for as long as possible so you can work and do all the things you enjoy.
Many of us are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. That’s why we sometimes recommend a simple blood test to measure blood sugar. High blood sugar levels indicate prediabetes or diabetes.
Prediabetes means blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. This gives us time to get you on a path to prevent diabetes. Activity, weight loss and healthy eating go a long way toward prevention.
I strongly encourage men to come in for routine check-ups to prevent some basic health problems.
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