Establishing and maintaining good health is an ongoing process that men need to take charge of. It is important that men (or the men in your life) are proactive in managing their health to avoid preventable illnesses and catch other medical conditions early.
Get the screenings you need
Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Examples include blood pressure checks and tests for high cholesterol. Some screenings, such as blood pressure readings, are available in your doctor's office. Others, such as a colonoscopy, will require you to visit a specialist or hospital.
After a screening, ask when you will see results and who you should talk to about them. Here are common screenings you should get --
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm. AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, the largest artery in your body. An AAA may burst, which can cause dangerous bleeding and death. It is often caused by a history of smoking.
Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer). Several different tests can detect this cancer. Talk to your doctor to decide which is best for you.
Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression, particularly if recently --
- You have felt down, sad, or hopeless.
- You have had little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed.
Get screened for diabetes if your blood glucose levels are elevated, your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, or if you take medication for high blood pressure. Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.
High blood pressure
Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.
If you are 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked. Have it checked starting at age 20 if --
- You use tobacco.
- You are obese.
- You have diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You have a personal history of heart attack or blocked arteries.
- A man in your family had a heart attack before age 50, or a woman has had a heart attack before age 60.
Weight issues and obesity. The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index. You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator, such as the one available at nhlbisupport.com/bmi.
Take preventive medicines if you need them
If you are 45 or older, ask your doctor if you should take aspirin to prevent heart attacks.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot.
- Depending on your health conditions, you may need a pneumonia shot at a younger age or need shots to prevent diseases like whooping cough or shingles.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse about whether you need vaccinations. You can also find which ones you need at cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.
Take steps to good health
- Be physically active and make healthy food choices. Learn how at healthfinder.gov/prevention.
- Get to a healthy weight and stay there. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities.
- Be tobacco-free. For tips on how to quit, go to smokefree.gov. To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 800-QUITNOW (784-8669).
You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about (such as prostate or skin cancer), not just the ones listed here.
Source: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality