Often, men can be the biggest obstacle to their own well-being. Some refuse to see a medical provider and often fail to keep up with preventative screenings, but during National Men’s Health Month, they are encouraged to make their health a priority.
Many health conditions can be detected early with regular checkups and screenings from a healthcare provider.
“Sometimes making that initial preventative check-up is the first step to either staying on the right path or getting headed to the right path,” said Zach Egger, D.O., Phelps Medical Group. He added, “Several areas of health relate to one another and if we can prevent a problem before it starts you’ll be ahead of the game.”
Dr. Egger encourages regular checkups for men and that they learn their family health history.
Many times men may have one thing concerning them and in reality, there can be underlying issues causing it. Phelps Medical Group can help with a complete health evaluation and make sure men are up to date on screenings and understanding any underlying health issues.
According to Dr. Egger, major areas of concern he sees for men are prostate problems, heart disease, cholesterol levels, and hypertension, among other health issues.
Many men aren't sure what their prostate is, what it does, or when to call a doctor if they think they might have a problem. This small gland is part of the male reproductive system and is supposed to be about the size of a walnut. As a man ages, his prostate can become larger. It is a normal part of aging for most men, but because it surrounds part of the urethra, it can cause problems with urination. Typically, men will not see these problems until age 50 or older, but they can start earlier.
“If you have trouble starting to urinate or have to go a lot, especially at night you may have an enlarged prostate. We have several tests that we can do to check your prostate health,” stated Dr. Egger.
Another issue for men is prostate cancer. Cancer screening tests, including the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to look for signs of prostate cancer, can be a good idea. Prostate cancer screening can help identify cancer early on, when treatment is most effective. Discussion about the pros and cons of prostate screenings should happen for men ages 55-69. There are many risks and benefits of this screening.
Dr. Egger stated, “My recommendation to my patients is that we have a shared discussion about risk factors and preferences about the screening.”
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease.
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including
- Overweight and obesity
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
To reduce your chances of getting heart disease, it is important to do the following:
- Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Talk to your health care provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having diabetes raises your risk of heart disease.
- If you smoke, quit. If you are unsure how, contact your medical provider or 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or www.smokefree.gov
- Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels with your health care provider.
- Have a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet. Being overweight raises your risk of heart disease.
- Exercise 30 minutes, five times a week, or 150 minutes a week and include two days of resistance training.
- Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.
- Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress.
Hypertension/High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls and heart wall muscle is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems.
You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
Dr. Egger states, “High blood pressure can be easily detected. The key is to check your blood pressure to know you have it. At that point, we can work with you to control it.”
High Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol puts men at greater risk for heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. For many men, the risk from high cholesterol starts in their 20’s and increases with age.
High cholesterol tends to run in families, so obviously genes play a role, however lifestyle changes play a big role in levels. The only way to know how high your cholesterol levels are is to get a blood cholesterol test called a lipid profile, which is a blood test that can measure the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
As men age, cardiovascular health becomes a higher priority.
"Some key things to help your cardiovascular health are maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active," according to Dr. Egger.
“If you are staying trim it probably means you are eating a healthy diet which also helps to keep "bad" LDL cholesterol in check.” He added, “Staying active reduces stress and helps prevent the unhealthy behaviors associated with it, like overeating. Healthy eating and exercise also help you to keep your blood pressure in line.”
He also said that there are medications that can be prescribed to you based on your lipid panel findings and your other cardiac risk factors. These medications can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
With June as National Men’s Health Month, men are urged to schedule their preventative check-up. Contact Phelps Medical Group, 308-995-6111 to schedule an appointment.
“We want to help our patients and their long-term health,” said Dr. Egger. “A routine physical is a great place to start.”