Must-Do Health Screenings for Men’s Health
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Thinking about putting off routine health screenings? Think again. Keeping up with your yearly physical exam can save your life. You could be at risk or have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, and not even know it.
Schedule a routine health screening and physical exam. Recommended tests and screenings will vary depending on your age, lifestyle and risk factors. Michael C. Chapman, MD, Cooper Clinic Preventive Medicine Physician and Cooper Clinic Platinum Physician, explains the most important screenings for men’s health.
In Your 20s and 30s
This is the time to have your baseline examination, the “gold standard exam.” If you wait until you are in your 50s to complete your baseline examination, you’ve waited too long, and may already be in “rescue” mode, rather than “preventive” mode.
A baseline examination consists of a comprehensive health history; basic physical measurements including blood pressure, weight and body composition; and comprehensive lab work. These measurements are used to detect early or unrecognized health concerns such as rising blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar - any of which could put you at higher risk of more serious health problems down the road.
Although medical treatment may be necessary, based on the results of your baseline examination your doctor will likely recommend treatment through lifestyle modification - maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
In Your 40s
Men should receive an annual, comprehensive physical exam including a medical examination, comprehensive laboratory testing, cardiovascular screening and a nutrition consultation. As you age, additional screenings should also be added to an annual comprehensive exam.
A CT scan looking at coronary calcification can determine your risk of heart disease. When you have cholesterol or plaque buildup in arteries, it begins to calcify. A CT scan of the heart can calculate the amount of calcium, thus determining your risk for heart disease. A score of zero is ideal; 400 and above indicates high risk for symptomatic heart disease. Calcification will increase with age, but can be slowed by controlling risk factors for heart disease. Cardiac risk factors that can be controlled through lifestyle modification include:
- Elevated Blood pressure
- High Cholesterol levels
- Elevated blood sugar or diabetes
- Physical inactivity
- Weight control
- Regular aerobic exercise
If you have a family history of premature heart disease, your doctor may recommend a heart scan at an earlier age.
In Your 40s and 50s
At Cooper Clinic, we recommend prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening and prostate exams beginning at age 40. PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. Although an elevated PSA level can indicate prostate cancer, it can also be increased by prostatic inflammation or prostate enlargement.
Colon cancer screenings are recommended beginning at age 45. If there is a family history of colon cancer, it’s recommended you receive your first colonoscopy 10 years before the age that a first degree family member was diagnosed with colon cancer. For example, if your dad was diagnosed with colon cancer at 45, you should be screened as early as 35. Follow-up screenings are generally recommended every five to ten years for normal colonoscopies, but may be recommended more frequently depending on the results of your first screening.
Yearly stress tests via the exercise treadmill are also recommended after age 40. Stress testing is one component of cardiac testing and provides a closer look at blood pressure, assesses fitness level and provides your doctor necessary information to make recommendations for lifestyle and exercise. At Cooper Clinic, while treadmill tests are given to patients in their 20s and 30s to assess fitness level, assign a fitness prescription and get a closer look at blood pressure in response to exercise, at that age it is unlikely that an abnormal test is due to coronary disease. Read more about the Cooper Clinic treadmill stress test.
In Your 60s
In addition to those examinations recommended in their 40s and 50s, bone density exams are recommended for men beginning at age 60. Men with risk factors for bone loss, such as chronic steroid use for asthma or an autoimmune disease, heavy alcohol use or low vitamin D and low testosterone, may receive bone density scans prior to age 60.
Carotid artery disease screenings to assess for stroke are recommended for men at age 65. Screenings may begin earlier in an individual with known risk factors. Men who have previous bypass surgery or have advanced coronary disease may be at greater risk of stroke.
If you haven’t had a baseline physical examination or completed a comprehensive health history, make it a priority. Your health history is the basis for the decisions your doctors will make about when you should undergo specific tests and screening. By putting off your yearly health exam, you could be putting your life at risk.
For more information or to schedule a comprehensive physical exam at Cooper Clinic, click here or call 972.560.2667.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.