You don’t have time. You feel fine. You fear being poked and probed.
We all can find reasons for putting off going to the doctor. But when
it comes to taking care of their health, men aren’t as proactive
as women; they tend to stay clear of the professionals in the white coats
unless they’re ill or seriously hurt.
“Health care providers have emphasized for decades that annual medical
exams are crucial, but too many men still find reasons to avoid the doctor’s
Christian Lising, MD
a family medicine physician from
St. Jude Heritage Medical Group
in Brea. “Many men fall into the comfortable trap of neglecting
regular checkups because they don’t feel sick, so they say, ‘Why
Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within
the past year and are 22 percent more likely to have neglected their cholesterol
tests, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
St. Joseph Hoag Health and the Los Angeles Angels are trying to change that.
“We are asking men to ‘Step up To the Plate’ and remind
them that early-stage prevention and detection of health issues are critically
important to staying well,” Dr. Lising said. “Regular checkups
will help you and your doctor figure out your current health baseline,
hone in on medical issues before they become more serious, and assess
the risk of future problems.”
If everyone in the United States received the recommended screenings and
preventive care, more than 100,000 lives could be saved each year, according
to the Centers for Disease Control. So, what can you expect when you go
to see your doctor? Your doctor will conduct several screenings, looking
for problems before symptoms appear. Some screenings, like tests to check
for high blood pressure, and body mass index tests to check for obesity,
are important for adult men of every age. Other screenings usually are
given starting at specific ages:
Ages 18-49 . For men 18 years of age and up, preventing heart disease is a primary
concern, and cholesterol screenings to check for blood fats should be
performed. A man’s cholesterol should be checked every five years,
starting at age 35. If you have diabetes or other risk factors for heart
disease, you should get screened earlier and more often, starting at age
20. Glucose screening, to check your blood sugar, should be done every
three years starting at age 45.
Ages 50-64. Reaching age 50 represents a milestone for a man’s health because
that’s when most men will have their first screening for colorectal
cancer. Depending on your risks, medical history and family history, your
doctor may want to perform: 1) fecal occult blood test, every year2) sigmoidoscopy,
every 5 years 3) colonoscopy, every 10 years. Some men will need these
exams more frequently; others may not need all of them.
Ages 65+. If you are a man between 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, ask your
doctor about getting an abdominal ultrasound to check for abdominal aortic
aneurysm, the swelling of a large blood vessel around the stomach area.
If the aneurysm ruptures, it could cause dangerous bleeding and even death.
An ultrasound is a painless medical test in which a handheld device is
slid over your abdomen, using sound waves to create real-time images that
show whether there’s an aneurysm.
Dr. Lising advises men of all ages to “Step Up to the Plate”
and work with their doctors to develop a personal strategy for preventive health.
“Ask your doctor about whether you should be checked for any condition
that concerns you, not just the conditions screened during the exam,”
Dr. Lising said. “You know the most about your body, and keeping
your doctor fully informed and being open about your day-to-day habits
and family medical history will help your doctor determine how to proceed.”
To learn more about Dr. Lising,
click here. For more information about St. Jude Heritage Medical Group,