It’s too bad our bodies don’t have a “Check Engine Light” that tells us something is wrong with our health.
When the light comes on while driving, we know something isn’t working right and we need to take our car to an expert to fix it. Like our cars, our bodies need regular inspections and maintenance to keep performing at a high level.
Especially during June, which is Men’s Health Month, it’s important to know when your annual physical and other milestone inspections are due. Consider the following annual checklist for your health, especially if you are an older adult.
Men in their 20s don’t deal with age-based health concerns, but there are many activities that can adversely impact their health.
Binge drinking in college and afterward can trigger heart disease later in life. A poor diet during these years can become habit-forming, especially if the person is not physically active. Eating too much pizza and fast food, and not enough fruits and vegetables, can lead to health issues in the 30s.
Finally, some say that the number one health concern for men is procrastination – putting off important checkups or not having a primary care physician. Choose your doctor now and get organized about your health.
During these decades men should focus on screenings and preventive care, especially related to the heart. To avoid an increased risk for heart disease when older, pay close attention to your numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Cholesterol levels are closely tied to heart disease, so men over age 35 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. Men over the age of 45 are at the highest risk. Men should have their blood pressure screened every 3-5 years until age 40 when it then should be taken annually. Knowing your A1C (blood sugars) is important to know if you are pre-diabetic. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can lead to heart disease. Developing a consistent exercise program is crucial during these years.
Once men enter their 50s and above, different types of cancer become a greater risk. If colon cancer runs in your family, you should consider getting screened in your 40s, definitely by age 50. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer for men and women. Still, colon cancer can be more successfully treated if detected early.
Men should also be screened for prostate cancer at age 50. An enlarged prostate is one of the most common health issues for men over 50. It may only cause mild discomfort, but at its worst could lead to cancer. Talk to your primary care doctor about a prostate screening.
The leading cause of death in men aged 45-54 is heart disease. Those bad habits involving your diet, exercise, and stress levels can create an unhealthy heart. Consult with your doctor about all the numbers related to heart disease: cholesterol, blood pressure, and other elements for cardiovascular health.
Treat your primary care doctor as the “Crew Chief” on your team who will help you manage your health for a long, happy life, especially since our bodies don’t have that “Check Engine Light.”