Men, don’t put off regular screenings and checkups

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Dr Matthew Kaiser

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According to the CDC, 13% of men 18 and older are in fairly poor health, and they die at higher rates than women from the three leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injury.

June is Men’s Health Month and the focus on men’s health is important to him and his family’s overall health. I have a lot of patients of a certain generation who are reluctant to come in and talk about what may be afflicting them. Loved ones sometimes need to encourage the men in their life to come forward and talk about their health.

For starters, men should get regular screenings to catch problems early. Screenings are medical tests that doctors use to check for diseases and health problems before signs or symptoms appear. Depending on your age and medical history, you may be screened for certain types of cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health issues, such as depression.

Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is the single most important step a man can take to ensure good health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, and in 2019 it accounted for nearly one in four male deaths. Unfortunately, heart disease can go undiagnosed until a man shows signs or symptoms of a heart attack, arrhythmia (chest palpitations), or heart failure.

Major risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight or obese, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption.

To reduce your chances of getting heart disease, it is important to do the following:

Know your numbers and participate in regular screenings. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so it is essential to check it regularly. High cholesterol also has no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get checked out. If you have either, effective treatment options are available.

Eat well. Maintain a healthy diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low levels of added sugar, sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol. Try a green salad instead of fries, and drink water instead of a sugary soda.

To move. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week, of moderate exercise will help maintain a healthy body weight and improve mood and heart health. If you are new to exercise, start with short walks or low-intensity activities and gradually progress to longer walks or more moderate or vigorous exercise.

Quit smoking and limit alcohol drinking one drink a day.

Have a good night’s rest. Sleep is essential for good health; most adults need seven to nine hours a night. The quality of your sleep is just as important. If you suffer from insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea (shortness of breath while snoring), talk to your doctor.

Reduce your stress level and finding meaningful ways to cope with stress. Life can get tough; discussing things with a mental health professional can help.

Gentlemen, this month is the perfect time to visit your doctor and focus on early detection and treatment of any health issues. If you haven’t seen your doctor recently because of the pandemic or any other reason, pick up the phone and schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Matthew Kaiser is a family physician at PeaceHealth Medical Group.PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Washington, is a nonprofit Catholic health system that provides care to communities in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. For more ways to stay healthy: peacehealth.org/healthy-you.

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