We’ve all heard early detection is key to finding potential diseases before symptoms present themselves. Unfortunately, men are less likely to visit their doctor for exams, screenings and health consults than women. Establishing a connection with a healthcare provider is important so when a concern arises, you have a trusted resource for guidance. We asked Dr. Marie McCormack of Renown Health to weigh in on the importance of screenings and early detection.
Blood Pressure Tests
Blood Pressure tests measure the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. Biennial (every two years) checks are recommended if you have normal blood pressure, or more frequently if you have high blood pressure (hypertension), or low blood pressure (hypotension). The National Institutes of Health cite normal blood pressure to be below 120 systolic (top number) and 80 diastolic (bottom number).
High levels of cholesterol increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. A simple blood test will help your healthcare provider determine your numbers and if you’re at risk. If you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease, you may need yearly screenings. Your doctor can provide the best course of action.
A colonoscopy can detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Doctors recommend if you have an average risk of colon cancer, begin screening at age 50. However, if you have an increased risk or family history, consider screening sooner. Generally, screening is advised every ten years, but if you are at risk get screened every 3-5 years, depending on the recommendation after your initial colonoscopy.
Prediabetes and Diabetes can run in the family, so it’s a good idea to get screened for type 2 diabetes every three years if you know your history. Risk factors of diabetes include; heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, and impotence. Talk to your doctor about testing for this dangerous condition, and what steps you can take for prevention.
If you have a family history of skin cancer or experienced sunburns as a child, you’re at higher risk for skin cancer. Consult a dermatologist for a baseline skin check, and then annual checkups are routine. Self-care at home includes keeping an eye on changing moles and birthmarks, as they signal a problem. And don’t forget the sunscreen – even during winter months!
It’s important to have regular eye exams to detect and treat glaucoma before damage to the optic nerve occurs. Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs, so early detection is imperative. If found in the early stages and treated adequately, vision loss can be slowed or prevented. Regular dilated eye examinations are recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers found in American men and can be detected using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. This type of cancer can be slow-growing or aggressive and fast-growing, so it’s important to screen early before symptoms develop. If you have a family history you can begin testing at age 40. Additionally, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the test.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
If you’ve ever smoked, it is recommended you have an ultrasound to test for abdominal aortic aneurysm—a weakened area of the aorta that can enlarge and rupture if it gets too large. Otherwise, men who have never smoked are at decreased risk, and your doctor can decide if this screening is necessary.