While it’s important for people of all ages to pay attention to their bodies, the stats show that men aren’t taking their health as seriously as women. But they should.
In fact, men are 24 percent less likely to visit the doctor for regular check-ups than women. Additionally, they’re 22 percent more likely than women to neglect their cholesterol tests. That’s a key reason why men suffer more heart attacks in their 50s than women.
As a family medicine doctor in Plymouth, Minnesota, I see a lot of male patients. And no matter what age they’re at, there’s no denying men are a whole lot less likely to visit my office. So, I’ve put together a list of important questions and answers to help men stay healthy. No surprise, going to the doctor for regular check-ups is a big part of staying healthy!
Why are men less likely to make regular visits to the doctor?
For some men who are in good health, they may not think it’s necessary. But the reality is that men of every decade need routine checkups. There are conditions that should potentially be checked.
Another reason could be the comfort factor. Maybe they aren’t comfortable with the idea of getting an exam or a blood draw. Or maybe they have the “dread factor,” thinking they are going to learn some bad news or get a lecture. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are not here to make people feel bad; we want to help you stay healthy.
What is the number one condition that men are most likely to ignore?
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men. Unfortunately, it can affect men in their 40s and younger. The good news is that it can be prevented.
Cancer takes the No. 2 spot, and there are also important screening tests based on age and family history for this.
What are some of the warning signs for heart disease?
People who smoke, don’t exercise, have a family history of heart disease, have high blood pressure, or have unhealthy cholesterol or blood sugar levels are all at highest risk. I highly recommend having a physical exam to assess for these risks. Chest pain and difficulty breathing can be signs of current heart disease. I recommend being seen as soon as possible for any chest symptoms.
What types of things can men do to combat these symptoms?
To start, weight management is key. Don’t get caught up with shortcuts like energy drinks or weight loss supplements. They don’t help, and can actually cause health issues like unhealthy heart rhythms. Instead, keep it basic: focus on portions, and stick with sustainable and very specific exercise goals.
The idea of eliminating your favorite foods long-term just isn’t realistic. On top of that, I’ve had many patients who get going on a commercial weight loss program. Or, they jump into a temporary 60-day challenge program, lose the weight, but end up gaining it all back. Lifestyle choices are the key to success. Everything in current medical literature suggests that being a non-smoker, being active and maintaining a healthy body weight is the best way to minimize heart disease. It'll also help with diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, and even anxiety and depression.
Another condition men are often concerned with but are nervous to ask about is low testosterone. Is this something people talk about during regular check-ups?
Absolutely. However, the first thing you should know is that routine or baseline testing for low testosterone isn’t necessary. Most men do not have low testosterone. There are medicines that can help treat this, but there are risks associated. Honestly, avoiding alcohol and maintaining a healthy body weight are two easy ways you can combat this.
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