Men, Get Your Checkups

Let’s face it. Men don’t exactly jump at the chance to visit the doctor.

In fact, most men don’t come close to being as attentive to their healthcare screenings and other needs as women are.

While the life-expectancy gap between men and women has decreased, men still die about five years sooner, on average.

Several other factors work against men. They tend to smoke and drink more than women. And when they miss out on medical check-ups or screenings, they miss a good shot at preventing heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. men, all age groups considered.

“Statistics show that men just don’t go to the doctor’s office and men die younger — that’s something we know for a fact,” said Manuel Torres, M.D., a family practice physician with  Baptist Health Medical Group. “And when they see their doctor, the visits are much shorter than they should be, and they usually don’t include advice on important lifestyle changes.”

Those changes can save lives. They should include eating better, exercising more, not smoking, and regular screenings for heart disease, as well as colon and prostate cancers.

See your doctor
The path to healthier living for men starts by getting over the fear or reluctance of seeing a doctor regularly. Check-ups will provide primary care physicians with the necessary data to determine risks for heart disease — including readings on blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Remember, most people who have high blood pressure don’t even know it. Similarly, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels often do not produce any symptoms until the disease becomes advanced.

However, many men realize they are overweight and tend to postpone doing something about it. Your family doctor can be an excellent starting point for beginning an exercise program and a nutritious diet.

Weight loss through exercise and better eating can help prevent type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and lower overall heart disease risks, Torres says.

Get screenings
Generally, men understand the importance of prostate health as they get older, but they don’t pay attention to the importance of  proper screenings.

More than 50 percent of men in their 60s, and as high as 90 percent in their 70s or older, have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, which can include urinating frequently or trouble urinating.

Here again, most men put up with an enlarged prostate for months, sometimes years, before seeing a doctor. These cases are mostly benign (noncancerous) enlargements of the prostate that block the flow of urine through the urethra.

Blood work and physical exams can help determine prostate problems. One in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their health care provider.

However, lung and colon cancers are diagnosed more frequently in men. Colorectal cancer screenings should also be on the healthcare to-do list.

Bottom line: Men need to get over their reluctance to get checked out.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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