Medical Tests Men Should Receive at Every Age to Stay on Top of Their Health
Our busy lives and work schedules often prevent us from seeking routine preventive care. A recent survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that male patients often skip routine tests ordered by their physician. At a minimum, men of all ages should schedule an annual physical for blood pressure, height, and weight checks, as well as screening for testicular cancer.
In honor of Men’s Health Awareness Month, here is an overview of some of the medical tests men should receive at every age to stay on top of their health. Be proactive. Don’t wait for something to go wrong!
In Your 20’s
- Vaccine Boosters: Since some immunity from your childhood vaccinations has worn off, the following booster shots may be necessary: Tetanus or Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis); Hepatitis B if you didn’t receive it as a child; Hepatitis A if you travel out of the country; and the meningitis vaccine if you’re in college or the military.
- STD Check: Most STDs have no signs or symptoms, so you or your partner could be infected and not know it. The CDC recommends that everyone get screened for HIV at least once in their lifetime. If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least annually for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
In Your 30's
- Cholesterol Profile: Cholesterol is a fatty protein in your blood that can build up in your arteries. Knowing your cholesterol levels can be a good predictor of your risk for heart disease. This is the time to get a fasting blood test to check for good (HDL) and bad (LDL), as well as triglycerides, which are fats in the blood that can also block arteries. Your total cholesterol reading combines both HDL and LDL levels. In addition, the profile measures triglycerides which, if high, can further increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
In Your 40's
- Blood Pressure: One of the most important things you can do to protect your health is to check your blood pressure regularly. High readings show excessive stress on your heart, leaving you at risk for heart attack and stroke. Often called the “silent killer”, high blood pressure rarely has obvious signs or symptoms. It can develop slowly over time and while it cannot be cured, it can be managed effectively through lifestyle changes and, when necessary, medication. To protect yourself, know your numbers by using the chart below provided by The American Heart Association:
In Your 50's
- Colonoscopy: Colorectal cancer, which is cancer of the lower part of the intestines, has a high cure rate as long as it's caught early. A colonoscopy is the secret to early detection. While the preparation part may not be particularly pleasant, the process is painless and important. Not only does it screen for colorectal cancer, it provides immediate treatment of any polyps that may be present.
- Prostate Cancer Exam and Screen: Prostate cancer affects one in six men. The digital rectal exam can be a lifesaver as it allows the physician to feel the prostate gland to check for any anomalies. Also available is a blood test for a prostate-specific antigen. This screen has recently been the subject of controversy due to misinterpretation of the results if not read carefully. The American Cancer Society recommends that you discuss the pros and cons of this test with your physician.
In Your 60's
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Test: If you have ever smoked and are over the age of 65, your physician may recommend an ultrasound to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is an enlarged area in the aorta that can rupture if it gets too large and can be fatal.
Published on June 19, 2018