Before testosterone sends you running into your ‘man cave’, I thought that you should know what happened last week. My friend’s father passed away from a massive heart attack. The tragic thing was that he was only 58 years old and it could have been prevented.
He had a random blood pressure check at work and the doctor highlighted that his blood pressure was sky high and advised him to go to the hospital. Yet he ignored the doctor’s advice. Only weeks later he passed away and his family are left to grieve.
Sadly, my friend’s father, was an example of many men who won’t see a doctor until it is too late. Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease can be stopped in their tracks with simple health tests.
Whether you think doctors don’t know what their talking about, or think you are feeling healthy and don’t see the point in going, making excuses may impact on your health and ultimately your life.
Acting upon the seven point health check list below just might save your life.
1. Blood pressure test:
Why? High blood pressure or hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer as it has no symptoms and one in three Australians over 25 are affected, according to the National Stroke Foundation. It is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease. The risk of disease increases as the level of blood pressure increases.
How often? Dr Chris Clifopoulos of Croxton Medical Centre advises that blood pressure be checked annually, or in between if you are feeling unwell.
2. Blood cholesterol and triglyceride blood tests:
Why? The higher your blood cholesterol level and triglyceride levels, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
How often? “If you are at high risk of cardiovascular disease or have a family history, you should see your doctor for a test every year from the age of 40,” advises Dr Clifopoulos. “Otherwise start testing from 45 on an annual basis.”
3. Prostate examination:
Why? So you don’t die a preventable death. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men and early, curable prostate cancer may not have symptoms. However if you do experience symptoms such as waking frequently at night to urinate, pain or difficulty in urinating, sudden urges to urinate, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine, or decreased libido, see your doctor.
How often? The Prostate Council Foundation of Australia recommends that men 50+ and those from 40 years of age with a family history should have voluntary annual assessments in the form of a Prostate Specific Antigen blood test together with a Digital Rectal Examination.
4. Bowel examination:
Why? Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in Australia, with an approximate one in 12 risk of an Australian getting bowel cancer in their lifetime. According to the Cancer Council Australia, regular bowel cancer screening reduces bowel cancer deaths by 33%.
How often? The Cancer Council recommends that those 50 and over use the Faecal Occult Blood Test annually (this is mailed out free to those 50+ in Victoria) to detect any signs of bowel cancer. Dr Clifopoulos advises that those at high risk of bowel cancer (e.g. if you have a family history) have at least one colonoscopy over the age of 50. If you notice any bleeding from the rectum, a persistent change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss and tiredness, see your doctor.
5. Blood glucose level test
Why? To check for pre-diabetes or diabetes, which does not always have symptoms. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, although not high enough to be called diabetes. Without treatment, approximately one in three people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop diabetes.
The good news is that if diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it is possible to prevent it from developing into type 2 diabetes through lifestyle modifications. Also if you already have type 2 diabetes, the sooner you find out the better your chance of preventing serious health complications.
How often? This is dependent on your risk level, however aim to have a full blood examination including a blood glucose test once a year.
If you have a family history of diabetes, Dr Clifopoulos says that you can have your blood glucose tested at your GP (they will have a blood glucose machine in their practice) whenever necessary.
6. Testicle examination:
Why? If found and treated early, testicular cancer can be cured in almost all cases.
How often? From puberty onwards men should regularly examine their testicles to establish what feels normal for them and see their doctor if they notice any of the following: a hard lump on the front or side of the testicle, swelling or enlargement, pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum, an unusual difference between one testicle and the other, or a heavy dragging feeling in the scrotum.
7. Skin examination:
Why? Skin cancer (non-melanoma and melanoma) is the most common form of cancer and two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, according to Sun Smart (www.sunsmart.com.au). Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers but early detection increases the likelihood of survival.
How often? Any mole/spot that suddenly darkens or changes shape should be checked out, especially if you have many moles or a family history of melanoma.
Dr Clifopoulos encourages patients to have an annual skin exam over the age of 50.