Health & Fitness: Men Need to Prioritize Health, Important Screenings
We’ve all heard the popular saying “health is wealth,” which means that good health is the most valuable asset that a person can have. However, many men neglect their health for various reasons and put off important screenings for later.
As the end of the year quickly approaches, it’s a great time for men to prioritize their health and make plans to improve their physical and mental health in the new year.
Dr. Matthew Roberts, a board-certified family practice physician at Piedmont Physicians at White Oak in Newnan, offers some tips to help men get their health on the right track.
Q: Why is it important to have a yearly physical with your primary care physician?
A: A yearly physical allows you and your physician to meet to establish a health care baseline, so we can watch for changes or trends over time and get to know you when you’re not sick. It also gives your physician the opportunity to address preventative measures that may not come up at a regular office visit.
Think of it like maintenance on your vehicle: if you want your truck to last a few hundred thousand miles, you’d be wise to take it in to your mechanic for scheduled tune ups, and not just always wait until something breaks on it. A physical also allows you to establish yourself as a patient with a medical office, even if you do not have any health issues.
Our area is growing, and there are proportionally less and less primary care physicians each week. This is unfortunate, but unavoidably causing longer wait times for new patient appointments. You may find yourself in need of a PCP for many reasons: a pre-op clearance visit, a letter for work, disability paperwork, travel clearance forms, etc. Having an established relationship with a primary care office could mean the difference between a one-week wait for a quick office visit appointment or a several-month wait for a new patient appointment.
Q: What are five health screenings or tests men 45-plus need to get each year? Are there health screenings for other ages?
A: At age 45-plus, I’d recommend a blood count and complete metabolic panel, a cholesterol panel, thyroid check and a prostate antigen check. Although these may seem like simple labs, some serious diseases may be caught early by them. Colon cancer, for example, can cause low iron, and that shows up on a blood count as anemia. If a 45-year-old man’s blood count looks suspicious for low iron, that’s a big red flag.
If you’re a smoker, at age 55, you may need to start yearly chest CT scans for lung cancer. That’s a great tool we have to check for lung cancer and hopefully catch it early. Colon cancer screening starts at age 45 now, also. That was updated from 50 years old just recently.
Q: What are some ways that men specifically can live healthier lifestyles?
A: A very good friend of mine from Tasmania said that the difference between Americans and Australians is that “Australians work to live, but Americans live to work.” These last two years have shown me just how little time men take for themselves. Even men who work from home have a horrible work-life balance. We have to learn to schedule time for ourselves a few days each week. Turn off the TV, put down the phone, and go focus on yourself: a walk down the street, fishing, a hike in a park, grill something, etc.
Q: Are there specific health risks that men are more prone to and need to be aware of? Why are men more at risk?
A: Men have higher rates of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), diabetes, depression and suicide, and skin cancer. The “why” is complicated, and several factors play a role: a man’s job, his diet, his work hours, his family medical history, his daily stress level. All of these are some of the variables that play into a man’s health risks.
Q: Are there other important things for men to know about their health?
A: There is nothing masculine about not catching a preventable disease early.