Men are less likely to visit a doctor regularly, compared to women, and often wait until a health issue becomes serious before seeking medical attention. But it’s important for men to have health screenings appropriate for their age and overall health status. The following guidelines are suggested for a 40 year old man:
- Blood pressure checks to detect hypertension. Have a reading every two years if your blood pressure is less than 120 systolic/80 diastolic, or annually if it ranges from 120-139/80-89. High blood pressure places you at greater risk for heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney damage.
- Blood test (lipid panel) to measure the high density and low density cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood. High lipid (fat) levels increase risks for heart attack and stroke. You should have this test every five years or more frequently if your levels are abnormal.
- Colon and rectal cancer screening to detect benign and cancerous growths (polyps) on the inside wall of the colon. Annual screenings should begin at age 50, but African American men should begin at age 45. Men with a family or personal history of rectal cancer, polyps or inflammatory bowel disease should begin at an earlier age because they at higher risk.
- Fasting blood sugar test to measure the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood after fasting for 8 hours. High glucose levels can indicate diabetes. Having other health issues increases your risk for developing diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides or a family history of diabetes. Test results indicate how often you’ll need the test.
- Some men choose to have prostate cancer screenings usually beginning at age 50. African American men may begin at age 45 and those with a strong family history of prostate cancer may begin earlier. Tests include a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE) to detect enlargement of the prostate gland. But more than half of men over 50 have an enlarged prostate gland due to a noncancerous condition. Noncancerous conditions can also raise levels of PSA.
- Annual dental checkup to detect tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer, and other problems with the jaw joint, or teeth grinding.
- People with eye problems or poor vision will need annual eye exams or as recommended by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Others should have a baseline exam at age 40 to determine if glasses or contacts are needed and to detect other problems, such as:
- Glaucoma - increased eye pressure than can lead to vision loss
- Macular degeneration - retinal cell deterioration that decreases vision
- Cataracts - clouded eye lens causing blurred vision
- Your weight, height and body mass index should be checked annually and if you’re overweight or obese, you should work with your doctor to reach a healthy weight. Overweight and obese people are at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases.
These health screenings are general guidelines to maintain health and prevent health problems. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate health exams and tests for your personal health.
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