Most people underestimate the importance of regular exams. Our hectic and unpredictable lifestyle often prevents us from seeking routine preventive care. People usually only come when they are seriously ill. In fact, health studies show that men visit the doctor less often than women. Men over the age of 50 should have a physical exam every year, while men under 50 should have one every three to five years. Even if you feel healthy, getting regular checkups is critical as they can diagnose the disease early and reduce the risk of complications.
The doctor will determine which tests should be performed and how often they should be performed based on the individual’s health status. The following tests are recommended for the general population.
Risk factors for developing high blood sugar levels include a family history of diabetes, obesity. The risk of getting diabetes increases as you get older. Regular screening for diabetes using fasting, postprandial, and HbA1C is recommended for individuals over 40 years of age. With the family history of diabetes, screening should be started at regular intervals, even as early as above 30 years of age. Controlling blood sugar levels is important to reduce end-organ damage. Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, kidney damage, eye problems and neurological problems.
All adults over the age of 35 should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. You may need to start screening as early as age 20 if you have certain risk factors, such as diabetes, smoking, a body mass index over 30, a family history of stroke, or first-degree relatives who have had impaired cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. People with risk factors for cardiovascular disease should check cholesterol levels more often.
Blood pressure is the pressure your blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels. High blood pressure puts you at risk for several health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. It is very easy to monitor your blood pressure at home using automated devices. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg. As the changes in diet occur as a result of cultural changes in society, the onset of hypertension is seen in young adults. Therefore, adults over the age of 18 should have their blood pressure checked at least once. People with co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney problems should have their blood pressure checked more often.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It is one of the top ten cancers for men in India. Screening for prostate cancer can help identify cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective. It’s done with a simple, widely available blood test called the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test, sometimes combined with a digital rectal exam (DRE) to feel the prostate for abnormalities. It is recommended annually for all men over the age of 50. Individuals with a family history of prostate cancer should begin screening at age 40.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and contribute to our overall energy levels, nerve functions and much more. Any irregularity with the thyroid gland can lead to various health problems and cause weight gain, lethargy, exhaustion or fatigue. TSH test is done to find out how well the thyroid is working. High and low TSH can affect fertility in men.
Older men over the age of 50, as well as individuals with risk factors for heart disease, should have an echocardiogram and treadmill test annually to screen for heart disease. Diabetic patients should undergo annual kidney disease screening with a creatinine and urine test. Individuals who engage in risky behavior should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases.
The theme of this year’s Men’s Health Week is ‘Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys’. The emphasis is on providing a safe and welcoming environment for men’s mental and physical health. Men are more prone to certain diseases than women. The above tests are extremely helpful in the early detection of health problems in men.