According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), women live approximately five years longer than men. Want to even the score? You can start by following a new game plan.
Take care of your heart. The number one killer of American men (and women) is heart disease. Men, however, are at greater risk of having a heart attack and experiencing one earlier in life than women. On a positive note, men have a better chance of surviving a stroke than women.
Don’t light up. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, but smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men (versus women’s 80 percent). Smoking also contributes to chronic lung conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that kill more than 60,000 men annually.
Slow down. Men are more than twice as likely to be involved in fatal car accidents – and be intoxicated -- as women.
Take a test. Approximately 33 percent of men don’t know they have the most common form of diabetes. If diabetes is not diagnosed by a blood glucose test and properly managed, it can result in blindness, loss of limb, impotence or life-threatening heart disease and stroke.
Okay men, now it’s time to put a new game strategy into action. You’ll be off to a great start by going to your doctor for check-ups and screenings. But don’t procrastinate (if you need a new primary care physician, Des Peres Hospital offers free physician referrals at 1-888-457-5203).
Here is a quick checklist that will help get (or keep) your body in tip-top condition.
- Between the ages of 20 and 39, have a blood pressure check and rectal exam done annually. A physical exam, urinalysis and blood test (to check cholesterol, diabetes, kidney and thyroid dysfunction) should be done every three years; tuberculosis (TB) test, every five years; and tetanus booster, every 10 years. An electrocardiogram (EKG) at age 30 will check your heart health.
- If you are feeling sad or hopeless, get screened for depression. Ask your doctor if you should be tested for any sexually transmitted infections or HIV. Begin monthly testicular, skin, oral and breast self-exams to be done on an ongoing basis.
- From age 40 to 49, keep up the annual blood pressure check and rectal exams, and add a fasting blood sugar test if you are at risk for diabetes. If you are at increased risk for prostate or colorectal cancer, your doctor may want to begin screening at age 45. Physical exams, blood tests and urinalysis checks should be done every two years; EKG, every four years; TB tests, every five years; and tetanus booster, every 10 years.
- At age 50 and older, visit your doctor annually for a physical exam, blood pressure check, TB test, blood tests, urinalysis, rectal exam, prostate specific antigen tests. You should have a colonoscopy beginning at age 50 (unless you are at risk) and every 10 years after that. Remember to have an EKG every three years and colorectal screening every three to four years. Don’t forget the 10-year tetanus booster. Check with your doctor about a testosterone screening, chest x-ray (especially if you smoke or have quit) and bone health screening (after age 60). Beginning at age 60, you should have a glaucoma test every two years. Between the ages of 65 and 75, if you have ever smoked, get screened once for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Practice healthy behaviors. Eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, limit alcohol consumption, stop smoking and start exercising. By practicing healthy behaviors you can help improve your health and even the playing field of life.