We’re talking Men’s Health this month and what you can do to stay healthy or keep the men in your life healthy.
Getting a physical exam every year is an essential starting point on the road toward wellness. These yearly exams give you the opportunity to refill prescriptions and ask specific questions about any additional health concerns. “During a typical physical, your doctor will evaluate your blood pressure, body temperature and other vital signs,” says Avni Jain, MD, a primary care physician with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group. “Your doctor will also conduct a multi-system examination of your heart, lungs, abdomen, testicles and prostate.”
Heart disease is responsible for one in four male deaths in the United States. When developing a plan for your health, it’s fundamentally important to know your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index numbers. “Knowing your numbers can help you track your heart health, make changes and prevent more serious health conditions. You can lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes and several other illnesses by just improving your diet and increasing your physical activity,” says Dr. Jain.
Mental health affects your thinking, mood and behavior at every stage of your life. Your mental health is as important as your physical health and should never be ignored. If you have any noticeable changes in your mood or experience harmful or destructive thought patterns, discuss these changes with your doctor right away.
Prostate cancer affects nearly 11 percent of all men and is the second most common cancer in American men. If caught early, prostate cancer has a high survival rate. Two main types of prostate cancer screenings are the PSA blood test and the digital rectal exam. “Starting at age 55, men with average risk for prostate cancer should talk with their physician about the potential benefits and risks of using the PSA test for prostate cancer screening,” says Kasey Morrison, MD, a urologist with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group. “If you are an African-American male or have a family history of prostate cancer, you could be at increased risk and may need to have these discussions earlier.”
Men should get tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases between the ages of 13 to 64. Men with more than one partner or those who have unprotected intercourse should be tested more frequently. “Testing usually involves a urine sample or blood test depending on your risk factors,” said Dr. Jain. “It’s very important to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor so he or she can administer the appropriate tests and treatments for your situation.”
Colorectal cancer develops when cancer cells in the colon or rectum start to grow and spread throughout the body. Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and men have a slightly higher chance of getting it than women. Colorectal screenings are a broad category of tests that help your physician locate colon polyps and other abnormalities in its early stages. Colonoscopies, stool DNA tests and CT colonoscopies are all examples of common colorectal screenings. There is no single recommended test for each person, so talk to your physician about which test is right for you. “For men at average risk, most guidelines recommend getting a stool test and screening colonoscopy at age 50,” said Dr. Jain. “If you have additional risk factors, you may need earlier or more frequent screenings.”
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
Men are six times more likely than women to get abdominal aortic aneurysms. This can be a potentially fatal condition and disproportionally affects older men with a history of smoking. If you are at high risk, your physician will request you receive a one-time ultrasound to scan your abdomen for any abnormalities.
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute