Men’s health awareness has become a well-documented and talked about area of interest, especially in June when National Men’s Health Awareness Week is celebrated.1 In order to maintain the highest quality of life, there are several steps men can take to improve their health. Men’s health week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems by being up to date with preventative healthcare and by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Office visits often include but are not limited to physical exams, education, performing various tests and administering vaccines. Fortunately, recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 64% of men said they have seen a physician within the previous six months.2 Annual checkups and regular screenings are important preventative health functions of primary care clinicians. In addition, seeing the same physician on a routine basis will help establish the communication channel needed to optimize health outcomes. Men’s health conditions to be aware of include prostate cancer, colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Each year over 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.3 It is estimated that about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in a lifetime.4 To help detect prostate cancer early, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their healthcare provider. Following this discussion, men interested in screening will get the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. A digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done as a part of screening.5
In the United States, an estimated 147,950 adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. Over half of this diagnoses are in men. If found early, colorectal cancer can often be cured.6 Primary care clinicians will refer patients for screening colonoscopies. A colonoscopy is a routine preventative procedure that enables an examiner to evaluate the inside of the colon. These are recommended at age 50 with for people without a family history, then every 10 years thereafter. If a first degree relative has colon cancer, a colonoscopy is advised before the age of 45 and/or five years before colon cancer diagnosis.6
For men’s cardiovascular health, coronary heart disease (CHD) or “hardening of the arteries” in the heart is another critical threat.7 CHD is prevalent within all ethnic groups.8 Conditions which increase the risk of CHD include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. To help reduce the risk of developing CHD, it is recommended that men receive routine screening and interventions to maintain normal weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
In addition to the above topics, other important men’s health screenings include an eye exam periodically after age 40 and osteoporosis screening if risk factors exist between ages of 50-70. Regular vaccinations are advised. These include an annual flu shot, tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years, and the shingles or herpes zoster series once after age 50.9
Overall, men’s health can be thought of as a marathon, not a sprint. Choosing a healthy lifestyle to maintain our health involves many things such as managing stress, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco products, and being physically active. Daily lifestyle choices can affect short- and long-term health, so even if you don’t see immediate results, please don’t give up.
Veradigm wants to remind you to not wait until something is seriously wrong before seeking medical assistance. Understanding health risks is important and taking action to will reduce your risks.
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