It’s no secret that men avoid doctors’ visits at all costs. Ask a man about the last time he went for a simple routine visit and he probably cannot recall. Ask a woman, on the other hand, and she can likely provide you the details of her last couple of visits.
Perhaps this is due to the recent movements to make women’s health a national priority (think pink ribbons and breast cancer), or perhaps it’s just due to plain old stubbornness. Regardless of the reason, men need to begin focusing on their own health. After all, statistics do show that men are more likely to suffer an early death than women.
It just takes a few simple tests to maintain your health. Here are the major recommended tests for each age group.
- Blood pressure: If lower than 120/80, every two years; if between 120/80 and 139/89, annually; and if higher than 140/90, discuss treatment options with your physician.
- Cholesterol: Begin testing at age 20 if you are at an increased risk for heart disease. Starting at age 35, get tested regularly (based on your physician’s recommendations).
- Diabetes: Begin screening if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take blood pressure medication.
- HIV test: Learn about your risk for the disease by speaking with your physician, and get tested.
- Syphilis screening: First, establish your risk for the disease by speaking with your physician. If you are at an increased risk, get tested.
- It’s also important to establish baseline levels of certain hormones and other tests for which to compare later in life. These include: blood counts, thyroid function, urine, testicular exam, heart and lung function, and perhaps an EKG or chest X-ray, depending on your smoking history.
- By this age, you should be having all the same tests as you did in the 18-39 age group, but add yearly cholesterol screening as well.
- PSA and digital rectal exam: speak with your physician about your individual risk for prostate cancer and when you should begin screening. From age 45+, get annual screenings.
- All of the prior basic tests that you’ve been getting for years, as well as colonoscopies starting at age 50 and annual PSA screenings.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening: Get screened once if you are between age 65 and 75 and have ever smoked.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol testing should be done regularly.
- Colorectal cancer screening: continue screening until age 75, or based on your physician’s recommendations.
- Talk to your doctor about whether you should be screened for diabetes, HIV and syphilis depending on your risk.
- It is also important to measure blood levels of vitamin B12 and calcium to help prevent and/or detect osteoporosis risk.
While no amount of urging will be sure to change these habits, keep in mind that being proactive about your health can save your life. It’s just a couple of simple tests about once a year – what’s so difficult about that?