At the beginning of the month, we chatted about why men do not go to the doctor and briefly covered what to expect at a routine preventive care visit. The screenings your doctor may perform at your visit — based on your age, health and risks — can help men stay healthy.
Let’s chat and chew about various wellness checks your doctor may recommend. This is meant only as a general guideline — talk with your doctor to discuss your personal health recommendations. Many doctors follow the guidelines put forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the nation’s leading source of recommendations and guidelines for screening tests.
An annual check-up is a good way to keep track of your health. In addition to a physical exam, your doctor can provide recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as your diet, exercise and any condition you may be managing such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If needed, they can also counsel you about depression, alcohol abuse, tobacco-use and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention for adults at higher risk.
Preventive care is not one size fits all. Having a routine check-up once a year can help to establish a relationship with your doctor.
A complete cholesterol test — also called a lipid panel — measures total cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. A cholesterol test can help determine your risk of the buildup of plaque in your arteries that can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries throughout your body. High cholesterol typically does not have any symptoms, but high LDL levels can be a significant risk factor for heart disease. The USPSTF recommends screening men aged 35 and older. Depending on your risk factors, your doctor can help determine frequency of this test.
Blood Pressure Check
A blood pressure test measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. High numbers can be an indicator for hypertension, which can lead to heart disease and may require self-monitoring and management. Learn what your numbers mean. It is important to talk to your doctor if your blood pressure is 120/80 or higher. The USPSTF recommends screening for high blood pressure in adults aged 18 years or older.
Lung Cancer Screening
Lung cancer screening is a process that is used to detect the presence of lung cancer in people with a high risk — typically older adults who are longtime smokers. The USPSTF recommends screening men aged 55-80 with a history of smoking.
Colon Cancer Exam
Screening for colorectal cancer can include a sigmoidoscopy and/or a colonoscopy. Your doctor will look for signs of cancer such as polyps, which are growths on the lining of the colon that can become cancerous. The USPSTF recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years.
The most common test for type 1 and type 2 diabetes and prediabetes is a Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you will have with sugar attached. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being inactive and having a family history of diabetes. Also, if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it is important to be tested for diabetes, because diabetes significantly raises your already higher risk of heart attack. The USPSTF recommends screening for abnormal blood glucose as part of cardiovascular risk assessment in adults aged 40 to 70 years who are overweight or obese. If you have abnormal blood glucose, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and physical activity.
Men, it is time to man-up and take charge of your health during Men’s Health Month! Remember, Compass Rose Health Plan members receive 100% coverage for routine preventive care such as an annual physical when using a network provider. Schedule yours today!