June 9 marked the start of National Men’s Health Week which, appropriately, ends on Father’s Day, June 15. Sponsored by the Men’s Health Network,
this annual observation is designed to increase awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men.
This male-specific focus makes sense because there are still significant statistical gaps between men and women in relation to health issues. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that men – on average – die almost six years earlier than women.
Screenings are a Smart Step toward Better Health
Health screenings are a smart step toward maximizing good health, as early detection is key to overcoming many diseases and conditions, and health screenings often serve as a bridge to early detection. Toward that end, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides the following overview of screenings that men should discuss with their health-care providers:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm—If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, ask your doctor about getting screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm; this is an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in the stomach that can burst without warning.
- Colorectal cancer—Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.
- Depression—If you have felt “down” or hopeless during the past two weeks, or you’ve had little interest in activities that you usually enjoy, talk to your doctor about depression.
- Diabetes—Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, or if you take medication for high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure—Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
- High cholesterol—Once you turn 35, have your cholesterol checked regularly. Cholesterol checks should start at age 20 if you have diabetes, a history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure, or a body mass index of 30 or above.
- Sexually transmitted diseases—Talk with your doctor to determine if you should be tested for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Prevention is the first line of defense when it comes to maximizing good health. With that goal in mind, the chart below – which was compiled based on recommendations by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment, along with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – outlines the top preventive screenings for men in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.
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Steps Beyond Screenings
In addition to health screenings, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality also recommends that men:
- eat a healthy diet;
- be physically active;
- stay at a healthy weight;
- drink alcohol in moderation or not at all;
- don’t smoke.