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Men’s Big 3 Health Issues

By Jared Scherer, PA-C June 03, 2024 Posted in: Wellness

When it comes to cars and machines, men typically know that ignoring a minor problem like a loose bolt can end up being catastrophic. When it comes to their own machine – the human body – some men put it on cruise and neglect early indicators of possible major health issues.

3 Big Health Issues

As a primary care provider, I’ve noticed that many men are under-concerned about what I call the big three – blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.  

One reason men may not worry about these issues is that there are generally no early symptoms. But ignoring precursor signs like elevated cholesterol paves the way for bigger problems later on. 

  1. Blood pressure. Called the silent killer, high blood pressure usually has no obvious symptoms. But left untreated, it can contribute to heart attack, stroke, sexual dysfunction, kidney disease and other serious health concerns. This is why we check blood pressure at every office visit. 
  2. Cholesterol. For many men, the risk of high cholesterol starts in their 20s and goes up with age. A simple blood test can determine your risk and should be done at least once in your 20s or 30s. Treatment is based on your overall risk of heart attack and your cholesterol test results.
  3. Type 2 diabetes. This is becoming increasingly common in young adults, including men. Early diagnosis is crucial for managing the disease and preventing complications. Screening is generally recommended at age 45, but may be done earlier for those with a family history of type 2 diabetes, who are overweight, sedentary, or have symptoms of increased urination, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst or increased appetite.

I tell men to be proactive and get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked at least once while you’re in your 20s or 30s depending on family history. Type 2 diabetes screening typically happens in your 40s, but may be checked earlier if you have a family history or other risk factors. 

Yearly office visits for preventive care should start in your 40s, or earlier if needed. That’s when we check your blood pressure, cholesterol and AIC for diabetes. Prostate screening with a blood test for PSA levels can start as early as age 40 for men with a family history of prostate cancer (especially a father, brother or son diagnosed before age 65). If patients have no significant family history, screening will typically start at 55. Keep in mind the PSA is just a blood test. Digital rectal exams are no longer performed for routine screening. 

3 Extra Take-Aways

Yearly preventive care visits are when we take time to talk about healthy habits and discuss any concerns you may have. Some common topics that come up during these office visits include: 

  • Testosterone. It’s the top health question I get from men of all ages. There’s a billion-dollar industry around this health issue. As a result, it seems everyone – from men as young as 22 to those aged 75 and beyond – wants a testosterone test. 
    • Don’t believe the hype. For every man I see who is concerned,  nine out of 10 will have normal testosterone levels. What I tell men is the vast majority of you won’t have an issue. While testosterone levels do naturally decline as you age, you can also make gains through resistance training, exercise and a healthy diet. There are very real adverse effects of testosterone therapy to consider as well. 
  • Dementia. This is another concern I hear about frequently in the clinic. The supplement industry offers a lot of promises regarding improved mental acuity, no over-the-counter supplement has been studied in a medical trial. What I can tell you is that exercise has been shown to be preventative. That’s an important step you can take at any age, along with not smoking, limiting your alcohol intake and eating a healthy diet. 
  • Exercise. What I want men to understand is that physical activity and exercise are not the same. A lot of men tell me they walk a lot at their jobs. While that’s good for you, actual exercise triggers a different stress response in terms of how the heart rate responds and how the body reacts. So you still need to supplement daily activity with some form of exercise. I tell men that movement is medicine that is accessible to everyone. 

My final takeaway is this: you don’t have to wait until you’re in pain or experiencing significant symptoms to see your primary care provider. Not sure if you should be seen? Call us and ask. I always tell patients that it is not our goal to prescribe medications. Our goal is to help you keep your health on track at every age.  Reach out to your Primary Care provider for more questions.

Jared Scherer, PA-C
Jared Scherer, PA-C

Jared Scherer, PA-C is a Primary Care provider with CHI Health.

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