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Men's Health: An Owner's Guide
When you tune up your car, you are taking steps to prevent a breakdown. In many cases, the same holds true for your body. By unclogging your arteries and checking your blood pressure gauge, you can keep your body running at its best.
With so many recommendations, it can be challenging to know which health maintenance schedule to follow.
“Following a health maintenance schedule is an excellent way to prevent life-threatening illness,” says Patrick Carter, M.D., Chief of Family Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Having your cholesterol and blood pressure checked at regular intervals and keeping your levels under control can help you stay fit and healthy for life.”
Kelsey-Seybold physicians recommend regular physical exams and screenings, based on age, gender, family history and medical history.
“For example, patients who are age 45 and older who are overweight and have at least one other risk factor for diabetes are prime candidates for regular blood sugar screening,” says Dr. Carter. “Men who are 50 years or older should have a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer. If the first exam is negative, they will not need another colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy for 5 to 10 years.”
“For many men, diseases can go undetected for years, and can lead to permanent disability and even death,” cautions Dr. Carter. “A routine blood test or testicular exam can literally mean the difference between life and death.”
Own Up to Your Health
While genetic factors play a role and some ethnic groups are at greater risk for certain diseases, there are several interventions you can use to prevent disability and even death. Consider the positive effects of the following lifestyle changes.
Smoking causes 1 out of 5 deaths each year in the United States alone, making it a good idea to “kick” the habit.
Driving under the influence of alcohol causes nearly half of the thousands of automobile fatalities each year.
Wearing a seat belt
The use of seat belts greatly reduces the risk of fatal injury in automobile accidents.
Avoiding alcoholic beverages
Alcohol abuse is a major cause of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
A sedentary lifestyle resulting from little or no physical inactivity can lead to a host of health problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Just 15 minutes of brisk walking can help decrease your risk of disease.
Eating more fruits, vegetables and fiber
Studies have shown that a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Getting regular checkups
The general rule is men in their 40s should get a complete physical exam every one to two years, and men in their 50s and older should get a complete physical exam every year.
“When you should have regular physical exams depends on your age, family history and ethnicity, and whether you have a chronic medical condition,” says Dr. Carter. “If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or borderline diabetes, you need to see your doctor as often as he or she recommends. A man’s health over his lifetime doesn’t follow a clear-cut timeline. A serious illness can happen at any age. The good news is that you can maintain your good health over many years with preventive medicine. That includes regular checkups.”
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