Do you know that most men spend more time taking care of their cars or planning a vacation than they do taking care of their health? In the U.S., women live 5-7 years longer than men. I believe one of the reasons is that women seek out regular medical care throughout their entire lives. They see a obstetrician during child bearing years; they get regular mammograms; they obtain routine PAP smears and other preventive health measures for their entire lives. Men, on the other hand, stop seeing a doctor around age 18 and never see the inside of a medical office until middle age. During that time they can have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, and prostate diseases.
But there are some things men, in particular, should keep in mind when it comes to maintaining their health:
Heart disease and cholesterol
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 people die each year from preventable heart disease and strokes, with men being significantly more at risk than women.
Men should begin screenings for these issues in their mid-30s.
Annual health examinations should begin at around age 50. This should include a test for anemia, a cholesterol level, a chest x-ray if the man is a smoker, a PSA test for prostate cancer, and a blood pressure determination.
For those men with an elevated cholesterol level, they can lower the level by adhereing to a healthy diet consisting less heavy in red meats and carbohydrates, and limiting alcohol consumption, i.e., 2 drinks\day. Men of all ages should also continue to stay physically active by incorporating aerobic activities, i.e., any activity that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week, into their lifestyle, as well as strength training.
There is some debate among health care professionals about when men should begin screening for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the CDC recommend against screening unless men begin experiencing the symptoms associated with prostate cancer. These include frequent urination, especially at night, pain during urination and difficulty fully emptying the bladder.
Prostate screening can begin earlier in life, around age 40, if there is a high risk for prostate cancer, such as family history, or bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms.
As men age, lowering testosterone levels can become another area men should monitor. Significantly low testosterone levels can predispose a man to low bone mineral density with subsequent bone fractures, erectile dysfunction (impotence) and low energy levels.
Testing for testosterone levels is done through a blood test.
Bottom Line: these are the minimal preventive care that all men should consider around age 30-40. Remember if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, may apply to your car, but not to your body. You need to take preventive measures with your body just as you do with your automobile.