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Men’s health month: It’s all about awareness, prevention, education & family

June 03, 2024

Every year, June is designated as Men’s Health Month across the country. As a man, no matter your age or health status, you should consider having an annual physical checkup, and this is a good month in which to schedule it. An examination by your primary care provider and screenings for significant health issues can improve or even save your life down the road. Here are a few key medical benchmarks to consider:

Your height and weight as you age--It’s basic, but these numbers give your provider insight into a range of potential health concerns. Your body mass index, or BMI, lets the physician know if you should be watching out for certain conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Blood pressure--High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can be indicative of other issues, or it can be a problem all by itself. Have your blood pressure checked at least annually starting at age 40. Risk factors for high blood pressure include genetics, obesity, tobacco use, and a diet high in fat, salt and calories. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, you may be advised to start surveillance sooner. If you are obese, a smoker, or a diabetic, more frequent monitoring is recommended.

Cholesterol--A simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels should be ordered at least every five years. If you’re at risk for heart disease, ask your physician if you should be tested more often.

Diabetes--Overweight or obese men age 40 to 70 should be tested for diabetes. If you’re younger than 40 but have high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes risk factors, ask your provider if you should be screened sooner.

Colorectal cancer--If you’re between 50 and 75, talk to your primary care provider about a colorectal cancer screening using one of three methods: a fecal occult blood test annually, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Prostate cancer--According to the American Cancer Society, men should discuss with their primary care providers whether or not to be screened with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE). If you decide to be screened, the ACS offers a tiered set of recommendations based on your risk factors: Starting at 50 for men at average risk who are expected to live at least 10 more years, at 45 for men at high risk (African American men and men with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer younger than age 65), and at 40 for men at very high risk (more than one first-degree relative with prostate cancer at an early age). The interval for subsequent screenings depends on the results of the tests.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm--If you’ve ever smoked, you should have a one-time ultrasound screening between ages 65 to 75 to check for abdominal aortic aneurysm, the abnormal expansion of the walls of this large blood vessel in your torso.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)--According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone ages 13 to 64 should be tested for HIV at least once. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from HIV testing quarterly or twice a year and should be tested annually for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Anyone who has multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently, every three to six months. If you share injection drug equipment, you should be tested for HIV annually.

To find out more information about men’s health, visit NYUHS.org or sign up for MyChart and select a primary care provider if you don’t have one.

Remember that every man can improve his health status by knowing his preventable risks, taking steps to improve health habits, scheduling routine screenings and tests for the early detection of disease and documenting his family medical history with his physician. Men’s Health Month: It’s all about awareness, prevention, education & family. Click here to learn more about UHS Men’s Health Services.