Chances are, if you’re a typical guy you’re more tuned in to what your car needs to run smoothly than you are to your own health.
It takes time and money to keep up with preventive maintenance on a vehicle. But you do it because you value what your car or truck does for you and you know it costs a lot more in the end to try to repair a poorly maintained vehicle.
Your body’s no different. You want to keep working and playing, stay energetic and enjoy sex. You want to see your kids and your grandkids grow up. A smoothly running body is a huge factor in your quality of life.
Beat the Big Two
Heart disease and cancer are the top two killers of men, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The benefit of catching cancer early is that it’s treatable. Once cancer has progressed it’s often untreatable,” says Darrel Pierce, M.D., a family practice physician on the medical staff at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.
Heart Health Screenings
High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Get it checked every two years unless it’s higher than 120/80 — then check it every year. Men over 65 should also get it checked annually. “I check blood pressure every time I see a patient,” says Dr. Pierce.
Adults over 20 should get a complete cholesterol and triglycerides analysis every 5 years. High cholesterol levels are so prevalent doctors are even screening teenagers, Dr. Pierce says. “That way, you have a better chance of preventing heart disease.” You may need to have it checked more often if it’s over 200 mg/dL, your “good” HDL cholesterol is less than 40, you’re over 45 years old or have other risk factors for heart disease.
Dr. Pierce recommends a screening test for abnormal blood sugar — a sign of diabetes — between ages 25 and 30, particularly in men with a family history of diabetes. “Diabetes plays a huge part in heart disease,” he notes. And undiagnosed, untreated diabetes can eventually lead to kidney failure and vision loss.
Screening means looking for cancer in people who don’t have symptoms yet.
A colonoscopy every ten years starting at age 50 looks for precancerous polyps, or growths, in the colon, “When colon polyps are found early they are very treatable,” Pierce explains.
As part of a routine physical, your healthcare provider can check your prostate for abnormalities with a digital rectal exam (DRE), using a gloved, lubricated finger to feel the prostate through the rectum.
The prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test is a blood test that measures the level of a protein produced by prostate cells. According to the American Cancer Society, annual PSA tests should be offered to men over 50. “It’s important to know that the PSA and rectal exam are better when used together,” says Dr. Pierce.
Team Up with Your Doctor
Like a trusted mechanic who knows all your car’s quirks, a regular family practice physician is an important ally in maintaining your health.
“Most people don’t make the time to go to the doctor,” says Dr. Pierce. But general screening recommendations are just the starting point. Based on your ethnicity, family history or risk factor profile, your doctor may recommend additional tests or a different screening schedule.
A good patient history, including family history and personal health history, is one of the most sensitive screening tools a doctor has.
Finally, it’s up to you — a healthy lifestyle is preventive medicine. Choosing to make lifestyle changes and manage your risk factors is a vital part of protecting your health.
For a physician referral, call 903-439-4062 or go to
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