The Stats Don’t Lie
As men, we often neglect the most important asset we possess—our health. In fact, it turns out we’re 24% less inclined than our female counterparts to show up at the doctor’s office regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And for men aged 18-44, that number shoots up to 32% lower rate of seeking medical care.
The Fallout of Neglect
Missing regular checkups means preventable diseases may go undetected until they reach advanced stages, resulting in poorer treatment outcomes and increased healthcare costs. Conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and certain cancers often exhibit subtle symptoms or remain asymptomatic until they progress significantly. By making regular doctor visits a habit, you can identify potential health issues early on, enabling timely intervention and potentially avoiding more serious complications. Common examples of simple screenings that can make a big difference include the PSA blood test for prostate cancer, or the Cologuard test for colon cancer, where DNA from colon polyps or tumors can be detected in a small stool sample.
The Future of Testing
As preventive medicine continues to evolve, genetic testing during regular doctor visits will enhance our ability to detect and prevent disease. If you have a family history of cancer, for instance, blood tests will tell you if you carry certain genes of risk. For example, tests may indicate you carry specific genes that put you at risk for pancreatic cancer. A personal screening program created by your primary care physician could visualize your pancreas every one-to-two years. This type of preventive care is coming, and by making it a habit to see your doctor regularly, you will keep up-to-speed on these exciting advancements.
Mastering Each Stage
To promote optimal health throughout your life, here’s a list of health and wellness priorities for each stage of life.
Young Adults (18-30 years):
- Annual check-ups: Establish a baseline for health and identify potential risks.
- Vaccinations: Stay up-to-date with immunizations, including tetanus, influenza and HPV.
- Mental health: The transition from high school to college and entering the workforce can be tricky. Counselling for stress, anxiety or depression to cross those thresholds more comfortably sets you up for long-term success.
- Healthy habits: These years tend to be really active so it’s important to try and establish health goals like aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, being mindful of alcohol intake and avoiding nicotine and other habit-forming products.
- Sexual health: Practice safe sex, get regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Interested in learning more about health at every age?
Adults (30-50 years):
- Regular screenings: Know your numbers – keep an eye on blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes checks. The healthy range for cholesterol is an LDL less than 100 mg/dL, and a fasting glucose of less than 100 mg/dL. We accept a higher blood pressure with age, but in a younger male, the ideal is 115/75 mm Hg.
- Weight management: Maintain a healthy weight through balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Healthy habits: Limit alcohol consumption, quit smoking and learn some techniques to manage stress effectively.
- Mental health: Prioritize mental wellbeing through stress reduction techniques and when needed, take advantage of the many benefits of professional counselling to reset and refocus.
Mature Adults (50-65 years):
- Age-specific screenings: Regular screenings for prostate cancer, colon cancer and osteoporosis.
- Cardiovascular health: Monitor cholesterol levels and blood pressure regularly.
- Regular exercise: Engage in moderate physical activity to promote heart health and maintain muscle mass.
- Eye and dental care: Schedule regular eye exams and dental check-ups.
Seniors (65+ years):
- Geriatric assessments: Comprehensive health assessments to manage chronic conditions.
- Bone health: Discuss the need for bone density tests and appropriate supplementation.
- Immunizations: Stay up-to-date with vaccines, including pneumococcal and shingles.
- Cognitive health: Engage in mentally stimulating activities and undergo cognitive screenings.
As men we play a pivotal role in our families, workplaces and communities, but to be truly effective, taking care of our wellbeing needs to be a priority. By making regular primary care doctor visits an integral part of your routine, you can proactively address your health needs and detect potential problems early. If it’s been a while since your last check-up, now is the time to set the healthy habit of investing in your preventive healthcare for a longer, healthier and more fulfilling life.