Taking charge of men’s health at middle age
Men have achieved great accomplishments, like walking on the moon, inventing electricity and creating rock ‘n’ roll. But when it comes to staying on top of their health, their efforts lessen.
In fact, many men, especially at middle age, are unaware that simple screening tests and lifestyle changes can influence long-term health.
An annual well exam or physical provides a chance to discuss any health concerns or changes in family medical history.
Dr. Vincent Cantone, internist with Meritus Pediatric and Adult Medicine-North Hagerstown, gathers a lot of information just by watching and talking to his patients.
During a well exam, patients can expect a candid conversation about diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco use, and screenings. As men start to grapple with declining testosterone levels, sexual health and depression are common topics, as well.
In addition to confidential chat, a routine medical exam with Cantone might include:
• Blood pressure and cholesterol screening. The frequency of the screenings is based on the patient’s age and medical history.
• Screening for diabetes depends upon the patient’s age, family medical history and weight.
• Colorectal cancer screening should start at age 50 or sooner for patients with a father, mother, brother or sister with a history of colorectal cancer. Cantone emphasizes that screening for colon cancer can prevent cancer.
Prostate screening warrants a discussion between physician and patient; however, the screening for men at average risk remains debatable.
• Heart-disease prevention includes a discussion about diet, exercise, family history and any signs of chest pain.
• Diet. Men are prone to weight gain around the midsection, so Cantone encourages his patients to eat less processed foods, less simple carbohydrates, and consume lean protein and leafy green vegetables.
• Exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise weekly and two or more days a week of strength training. To lose weight, Cantone recommends one hour of exercise five days a week.
• Updates on vaccines include the flu shot and the Tdap vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough. Men 60 and older might need a shingles vaccine.
If you’re a man older than 40 and haven’t seen a physician in more than a year, it’s time to schedule a well visit with a doctor. Despite vices and fears of the unknown, well exams can get you thinking about preventing health problems, not treating them.