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Preventive Health Screenings for Men at Every Age

Preventive Health Screenings for Men at Every Age

Father’s Day rolls around each June with a chance to show our dads and father figures just how much we appreciate them. Beyond the usual ties and tools, why not consider a gift that truly keeps on giving? We’re talking about the gift of health. June is the perfect time to remind the men in your life to schedule their annual health screenings with a primary care provider.

What Are Preventive Health Screenings?

A preventive health screening is a medical checkup or test performed before any illnesses or symptoms are present. According to Archbold Primary Care-Thomasville physician Dr. Jackson Hatfield, preventive screenings aim to detect health problems early or assess risk factors for future medical issues.

“The goal is to identify and address potential health concerns at an early stage, often before symptoms develop, which can lead to more effective management and better health outcomes,” said Dr. Hatfield.

When Should a Man Start Getting Preventive Health Screenings?

Knowing which screenings are necessary and when to schedule them can play a pivotal role in preventive health care.

“Preventive health screenings are tailored based on age, family history, and personal health history and are crucial for maintaining health and wellness over a lifetime,” says Dr. Hatfield. “It’s never too early or too late to find a primary care physician that will oversee your health screening regimen and overall healthcare needs.”

In Your 20s and 30s: Building a Healthy Foundation

Men in their 20s and 30s are often caught up in the rush of career building and starting families, but this is the ideal time to establish a healthy baseline. Annual physical exams should include blood pressure checks, a review of body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol screenings every 4 to 6 years. It's also a prime time to discuss mental health, sexual health, and substance use with your primary healthcare provider, ensuring that you maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Hatfield recommends the following screenings for men in their 20s and 30s:

  • Annual Physical Exam: Includes checking vital signs, discussing lifestyle habits, and addressing mental and sexual health concerns with an established primary care provider.
  • Blood Pressure Screening: If initial readings are normal and no symptoms or health problems are present, blood pressure should be checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol Check: Starting at age 20, men should have their cholesterol levels tested every four to six years, especially if there's a family history of heart disease.
  • Diabetes Screening: It is advisable to get screened for diabetes if you have a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese range or a family history of diabetes.
  • Testicular Exam: Discuss with your healthcare provider whether this should be part of your regular health evaluation, especially if you have any symptoms or a family history of testicular problems.

Entering Your 40s: The Age of Health Awareness

According to Dr. Hatfield, as men step into their 40s, the risk for various health issues may increase. However, by continuing with the screenings that started in earlier years and adding a few additional screenings, you can stay on top of your health and catch any potential health issues early.

Here are some key screenings he recommends for men starting in their 40s:

  • Diabetes Screening: If not previously tested, men should begin regular screenings for diabetes, especially if they are overweight or have a family history of the disease.
  • Eye Exam: Get a baseline eye examination to check for early signs of health issues like glaucoma or vision changes.
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: Depending on individual risk factors and family history, a screening colonoscopy to detect any signs of colorectal cancer should be scheduled at the age of 45.
  • Cardiovascular Health Assessment: This includes monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels and discussing heart disease risk factors with your established primary care provider.
  • Prostate Health Evaluation: Discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of beginning prostate cancer screening, especially if you have a family history of the disease. A man should consider seeing a urologist for various reasons related to the urinary tract and male reproductive organs, including erectile dysfunction, a change in urinary habits, kidney stones, or infertility.

Your 50s: A Time for Critical Screening

The 50s are a critical decade for initiating certain health screenings to detect conditions early when they're most treatable.

Dr. Hatfield recommends that men in their 50s talk with their physician about a screening regimen that includes the following tests:

  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: Continue or start regular screenings, such as colonoscopies, typically recommended every 10 years starting at age 45 or 50, depending on individual risk factors.
  • Prostate Cancer Screening: Men should discuss with their healthcare provider the potential benefits and risks of screening for prostate cancer, especially if they have a family history or are of African-American descent.
  • Lung Cancer Screening: For men who have a history of heavy smoking, an annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is recommended starting at age 50.
  • Bone Density Scan: If you are at risk of osteoporosis due to factors like long-term steroid use or a family history of osteoporosis, start getting bone density scans to check for signs of bone loss.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Continue monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure, and discuss any potential symptoms of heart disease with your established primary care provider.

60s and Beyond: Staying Vigilant

Entering the 60s marks an important phase for men to effectively intensify health screenings to manage aging-related health risks.

Here are the screenings that men should start or continue in their 60s:

  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: Continue regular screenings, such as colonoscopies, which are typically advised until age 75, depending on the results and individual health status.
  • Prostate Cancer Screening: Ongoing discussions with a healthcare provider about the necessity and frequency of prostate screenings are crucial, especially considering individual risk factors.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening: Once in a lifetime, screening for AAA by ultrasound is recommended for men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked.
  • Bone Density Scan: Regular screenings for osteoporosis should be considered, especially if risk factors were identified in earlier decades or if new concerns arise, such as frequent fractures.
  • Vaccinations: Stay updated with vaccinations, including the flu vaccine annually, the pneumonia vaccine, as recommended by your healthcare provider, and the shingles vaccine, typically starting at age 60.
  • Comprehensive Eye Exams: Continue regular eye exams to screen for age-related conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Continue monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure, and discuss any potential symptoms of heart disease with your established primary care provider.

The Role of Lifestyle Choices in Men’s Health

Lifestyle plays a pivotal role in shaping men's health outcomes across all stages of life. Adopting healthy habits enhances well-being and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

According to Dr. Hatfield, key lifestyle factors that significantly impact men's health include:

  • Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins helps maintain weight, reduce cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise, whether it’s cardio, strength training, or flexibility exercises, helps improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and mental health.
  • Smoking Cessation: Avoiding tobacco products is one of the best ways to improve health and reduce the risk of many types of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems.
  • Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Limiting alcohol intake helps prevent liver disease, cardiovascular problems, and certain types of cancer.
  • Stress Management: Employing techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or therapy can significantly reduce stress levels, thereby improving overall health and quality of life.

This Father’s Day, encourage the special men in your life to prioritize their health by scheduling an annual check-up with a primary care physician. For more information or to find an Archbold Primary Care provider near you, visit Archbold’s online physician directory.