Special to Iredell Free News
If you aren’t sick, you may not put going to the doctor on your list of priorities. However, regular checkups are important, even if you are feeling fine.
June is National Men’s Health Month. There’s a longstanding stereotype that men avoid going to the doctor, even for preventive screenings or checkups. In fact, according to a Cleveland Clinic study, 74 percent of 1,174 surveyed men would rather do household chores than go to the doctor. Of the men surveyed, 82 percent try to stay healthy to live longer for family who rely on them; yet only 50 percent engage in preventive care.
Other studies show that women are far more likely to go to the doctor than men. And with that, men die an average of five years earlier than women.
These numbers are concerning, as keeping up with routine healthcare activities and screenings are proven to help promote long-term health and wellness. If you want to increase your chance of
living longer and spending more meaningful years with your loved ones, you need to take the time and energy to visit your doctor regularly.
Preventive screening tests and checkups can help catch health problems early before they’ve progressed enough to cause symptoms. Treatment in these early stages is more likely to be effective. All men should partake in routine screening tests.
The disease you need screening for, and how frequently you should be screened, varies according to your health, age, and other risk factors. Take Men’s Health Month as a reminder to talk with your doctor about how often you should be examined and screened for health problems.
Below are a few preventive screening tests that are recommended for most men. This information is intended for use as a general guide. You should always talk to your doctor for details on what types of tests you need and when to get them. The following guidelines are recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force:
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
This ultrasonography screening is a way of checking if there is a bulge or swelling in the aorta. It is recommended once between ages 65 and 75 if you’ve ever been a smoker.
You should get blood pressure checks at least every two years or more often if your blood pressure level is high. A healthy blood pressure range is 120/80.
Lipid Profile (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides)
The American Heart Association recommends cholesterol checks, starting at age 20, every four to six years as long as your risk remains low.
Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for men starting at age 45. You should talk to your doctor about which screening test is best for you and how often you need it.
Men who are overweight or obese should start getting screened at age 35. You should also get tested for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.
If you are at average risk for prostate cancer, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor about prostate screening at 50 years old. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test can uncover prostate cancer at an early stage. Your doctor can help you decide if this test is right for you.
The United States Prevention Task Force recommends HIV/AIDS screening in adolescents and adults aged 15 to 65 years. You may need to get tested before age 20 if you are at high risk for being infected by HIV. You should discuss further testing with your doctor.
Annual lung cancer screening is recommended in adults aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
Men older than 50 should have a yearly physical exam with their doctor. If you are looking for a primary care provider, visit IredellPhysicianNetwork.com to view a full list of providers.
About Iredell Health System
Iredell Health System includes Iredell Memorial Hospital; Iredell Mooresville; Iredell Home Health; Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center; Community and Corporate Wellness; Occupational Medicine; the Iredell Physician Network and more. Iredell Memorial Hospital is the largest and only nonprofit hospital in Iredell County. The comprehensive healthcare facility has 247 beds; more than 1,800 employees; and has 260 physicians representing various specialties. Centers of excellence include Women’s and Children’s; Cardiovascular; Cancer; Surgical Services and Wellness & Prevention. The Health System’s newest campus, Iredell Mooresville, is home to the area’s only 24-hour urgent care facility, as well as an ambulatory surgery center, imaging center, rehabilitation services, and physician practices. The mission of Iredell Health System is to inspire wellbeing. For a comprehensive list of services and programs, visit www.iredellhealth.org.