For many men health check-ups are usually not at the top of their priority list. Lack of health care monitoring in younger years can open the door to serious specific diseases later in life.
Recent reports indicate women are 33% more likely than men to visit a doctor. With age, this figure reduces, but still many men are slow to visit the physician for simple tests like blood pressure, A1C, cholesterol, and prostate screening. With the ability to monitor blood pressure using small battery powered wrist devices and home A1C test kits for blood sugar levels, men do not have a reason anymore to avoid monitoring these health indicators. Here are 4 important health tests men could take today to help lower your risk for serious health challenges in the future.
1. Check Blood Pressure Daily
It takes little effort or time to check one’s blood pressure in the morning and before bedtime. For years, healthcare professionals have used a 120/80 ratio of systolic to diastolic pressures to indicate acceptable levels. Just recently, new official guidelines for those over 60 years of age have been adjusted to 150/95. Blood pressure, of course, fluctuates during the day based upon activity. What is the biggest contributor to high blood pressure? Being overweight by 20 pounds or more can cause one’s blood pressure to jump at least 20 points for systolic and diastolic pressures. Check your blood pressure daily to monitor your heart level, keeping it healthy.
2. Test A1C Levels Every 3 Months
A1C levels are reflected as a number of how your blood sugar has fluctuated during the past 3 months and offers an average number. A1C numbers of less than 7 or even 6 percent are considered optimum for supporting healthy blood sugar level. This A1C number typically increases with age. The in-home A1C test uses a small finger prick to pull less than a drop of blood for the test. Cost for these kits is minimal, typically around $15 every 3 months. Knowing that one is avoiding other serious health challenges later in life is money well-spent. Most healthcare professionals recommend starting regular A1C level testing in the 30’s.
3. Monitor Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels are a little more difficult to monitor regularly as the “good and bad” components of cholesterol often require blood to be drawn in a physician’s office as part of an annual physical. Cholesterol levels can be impacted by what we eat, how long we have been eating poorly and lack of physical activity. For younger men, cholesterol testing is recommended to start in their 20’s. One can purchase cholesterol-testing kits in drug stores.
4. Complete a Prostate Cancer Screening Test
Besides knowing the three important blood tests, what also is important to men’s health is knowing the condition of one’s prostate, especially for men over the age of 50. Today, many physicians have moved away from physical exams that determine prostate gland smoothness and now depend mainly on PSA numbers from a blood test. PSA numbers can reflect the dimension (size) of the prostate. If PSA numbers begin to exceed 4.0 ng/ml, closer monitoring of the PSA level is appropriate. Higher numbers do not necessarily indicate the possibility of cancer, but often a condition known as BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). Therefore, undergoing a prostate screening test can help detect problems early so that they can be treated as soon as possible.
A man’s health should be a priority no matter at what age. Therefore, performing regular check-ups and monitoring blood pressure, A1C levels, cholesterol, and PSA numbers can attribute to a world of good for your health.
Written by: Charles D. Shively, PhD, RPh
Edited by: Almased Nutrition Staff