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Gentlemen, Start Your Screenings!

It occurs to us that we might have neglected to go over some of the preventive medical tests men need to stay healthy.  As always, prevention is better than cure, and while screening tests don’t necessarily prevent disease or illness, they do detect things really, really early when they are easiest to treat.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has compiled this list of basic tests for men.  There are others you may need, according to your particular health situation. Talk with your primary care doctor about which ones you (or your husband, sibling or male relative, partner or son) might need, and when, depending on your age, medical history and lifestyle:

  • Body Mass IndexYour body mass index, or BMI, measures your body fat based on your height and weight.  It is used to screen for obesity.  Check out this site for more information: nhlbisupport.com.
  • Cholesterol: High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.  Once you’ve hit 35 (or after you turn 20, if you have risk factors such as diabetes, a history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure or a BMI of 30 or over), have your cholesterol checked regularly.
  • Blood PressureHigh blood pressure seriously increases your chance of getting heart disease or kidney disease, and for suffering a stroke.  If you do have high blood pressure, you may need to take medication to control it.  Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years.
  • Cardiovascular DiseaseBeginning at age 45 and following up through age 79, ask your doctor if you should be taking aspirin every day to help decrease your risk of a heart attack.  The exact aspirin dosage your doctor may recommend depends on your age, your health and your lifestyle.
  • Colorectal CancerGenerally, get tested for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 (and through age 75).  You and your doctor will determine which test is best for you, and how often you have the test will depend on which test you choose.  If there is a family history of colorectal cancer, your doctor may want to start testing before you turn 50.
  • Other CancersDiscuss with your doctor when and if you should be tested for lung, oral, skin, prostate or other cancers.
  • Depression: Depression is a treatable disease.  If you have felt really down or hopeless  for several weeks, or if you find you have little interest in doing the things you usually enjoy, consider talking with your doctor about depression.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes, or high blood sugar, can cause problems with your eyes, heart, feet, kidneys, nerves and other parts of the body.  If you have blood pressure higher than 135/80, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes.
  • Tobacco Use: Are you still smoking or using any other form of tobacco?  Talk to your doctor about quitting.  Now.
  • Abdominal Aortic AneurysmIf you have smoked 100 cigarettes in your lifetime and are between the ages of 65 and 75, talk with your doctor about screening for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  This is an abnormally swollen or large blood vessel in the stomach that can rupture without warning.
  • Sexually Transmitted DiseasesTalk to your doctor to find out whether you should be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • HIVYour doctor may suggest screening for HIV if you:
  1. Have sex with men.
  2. Have ever used injected drugs.
  3. Had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  4. Pay for sex or have sex partners who do.
  5. Have past or current sex partners who are infected with HIV.
  6. Are being treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
  7. Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
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