The Best Gift You Can Give Dad is Good Health

I always say the best gift you can give yourself and the people you love is good health. So it’s no surprise to me that so many of my female patients come to me with the question, “How can I keep my man healthy?” And I’m happy to help! After all, I do treat many male patients and also happen to be married to one. The fact is, keeping our husband’s healthy involves the same routine as keeping ourselves healthy (and happy)—it means making sure they’re eating a well-balanced diet, living an active lifestyle and staying mentally fit. It also means making sure they make a visit to their doctor at least once a year. These preventative health measures are crucial, especially as men age. So, as we gear up to celebrate the men in our respective worlds who are fathers, grandfathers and even great grandfathers, I thought it was the perfect time for an in-depth refresher course on how to keep our men healthy.

All Men:

Whether you’re a young professional, a new dad or a grandfather, all men should be screened for inflammation, which is essentially your body’s response to real or perceived threats. The Department of Health and Human Services and the American Heart Association both show that chronic inflammation is linked to diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, fibromyalgia, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Those are serious diseases coming from one seemingly small issue. In addition, all men should have their hormone balance checked annually. Although not as sensitive as women are to fluctuations, looking at insulin, thyroid, testosterone and cortisol levels can help prevent surprising shifts in energy and weight. Looking for the bad testosterone metabolites is important as well, including DHT and androstenedione. Your doctor should also check or key nutritional deficiencies, as this is a key preventative measure. I always look for shifts in vitamin D, B12, folate and iron. Fatty acid deficiencies can lead to energy loss and digestive issues.

Another very important issue both men and women shouldn’t undermine is mental health. But men, especially, hold stress differently than women. They’re less likely to talk about it and more likely to internalize it. Assessing a man’s risk for depression, stress and anxiety is important at every age. Physical performance and endurance is also crucial. Athletic performance and mental health are tied together, so men should be screened yearly for injury risk, endurance and even the risk of over exercising. Cognitive performance is critical too. Changes in concentration, memory and recall are all key warning signs.

Here’s a breakdown of what men should be focusing on at each age during their annual checkups:

Men in their 20s and 30s

This is the age when boys become grown men—in other words, their mom has likely retired from scheduling all their doctor’s visits and administering all their medicine. This is the right time for a guy to get comfortable, not only making his own appointments, but also talking with his doctor in more ways than just nodding “yes” and shaking “no.” I always try to glean as much information about each patient as possible to learn about their lifestyle habits and behaviors and understand their family history. This includes your sexual activities. No, you don’t have to go into descriptive detail with your doc, but you should let him or her know if you think you should get tested for STDs. It’s also important for your primary care provider to know about any diseases that could be passed on from your parents and grandparents. Twenty and 30 might seem relatively young, but did you know that testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men ages 15 to 34? Bottom line: Talk to your doc.

Get screened:

  • STDs: If you’re having sex with more than one partner (who hasn’t been tested his/herself) get screened. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all men should get tested for HIV at least once.
  • Blood pressure: once every two years
  • Cholesterol: Men age 35 and older should have their cholesterol tests every three to five years, unless you have a family history of heart disease or other heart-related issues, in which you should get tested at 25.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Those who are overweight or obese should get tested as well as anyone who has a history of diabetes in their family

Men in their 40s and 50s

These decades, most men often see their metabolism slowing down—they can’t drink beer and eat wings like they used to without paying the price in pounds. It’s natural and weight gain can be prevented with proper exercise and nutrition. Heart disease is another risk factor that starts to slowly creep in as men age. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women and even presents the same risk for most ethnicities. One disease that is unique to men in general; however is prostate cancer. The older a man is, the more likely he is to be diagnosed. Although only 1 in 10,000 men under age 40 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the rate spikes to 1 in 38 for men ages 40 to 59 and 1 in 14 for ages 60 to 69. Talk with your doctor during your annual appointment to go over your family history and ensure you’re properly tested.

Get screened:

  • STDs: If you’re having sex with more than one partner (who hasn’t been tested his/herself) get screened. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all men should get tested for HIV at least once.
  • Blood pressure: once every two years
  • Cholesterol: every three to five years
  • Type 2 diabetes: Those who are overweight or obese should get tested as well as anyone who has a history of diabetes in their family.
  • Colon cancer: This is an important one. At age 50, schedule your first stool test, which you should have every year moving forward, and colonoscopy, which you should have every 10 years moving forward.
  • Imaging of the heart: Many men are at risk for heart disease. Doing a CT scan for a calcium score of the heart can help assess their risk.
  • Prostate cancer: In 2012 USPSTF (USPSTF) changed their recommendation for annual Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screenings, which tests for elevated levels of PSA in the blood stream. As a health care provider, this was not great news because that early screening and treatment benefited a number of men. There are, however, many other tests that can be performed to determine the need for a prostate biopsy. These include blood testing like Free PSA measurement, Apfiny and the 4-K score.

Men in their 60s and beyond

Most of the same health considerations for men ages 40 through 50 apply for the 60+ crew as well. There is, however, an increased need to strengthen brainpower and mental health, especially since many people in this age range have retired. My best advice is to say involved in community events to keep up your social stamina and be sure to exercise both your physical body (aim for 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week) and mind (sudoku is a great brain-boosting activity!).

Get screened:

  • STDs: If you’re having sex with more than one partner (who hasn’t been tested his/herself) get screened. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all men should get tested for HIV at least once.
  • Blood pressure: once every two years
  • Cholesterol: every three to five years
  • Type 2 diabetes: Those who are overweight or obese should get tested as well as anyone who has a history of diabetes in their family.
  • Colon cancer: Continue stool tests annually and a colonoscopy every 10 years.
  • Imaging of the heart: Many men are at risk for heart disease. Doing a CT scan for a calcium score of the heart can help assess their risk.
  • Assess for bone health: Men can suffer from osteopenia as well, so it’s important that your doctor looks for signs of bone turnover, which can help prevent later decline in boss and injury.
By | 2017-06-26T21:15:50+00:00 June 16th, 2017|Men in Your Life|0 Comments