Here are four tips for helping men to stay healthy. The first two are important for men of all ages, the second two more relevant to men as they approach 50.
Know your BP & Cholesterol
In your 30 and 40s it is about doing the basics right. This is the age where you have the luxury of time to make changes to benefit your long-term health. See your doctor to have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked – they can offer lifestyle advice if the levels are raised. Cardiovascular disease is less common at this age but does still happen, so it’s good to know your ‘baselines’.
Vitamin D & Testosterone
Vitamin D deficiency is very common due to the amount of time we generally spend indoors. It is linked to a number of health problems including osteoporosis and heart disease. A simple blood test can tell you whether you are deficient, something which is easily treated with supplements. Testosterone levels drop of as men get older. For most this won’t require any treatment but very low levels can cause problems with libido, energy levels and erectile dysfunction. Again a simple blood test can show if there is a problem.
Men over 50 should have a more in-depth assessment of their cardiovascular risk. Traditionally this was done via a treadmill or ‘stress’ test, but I am increasingly using CT calcium scoring, a scan which looks for evidence of calcium deposits as a marker of disease in the coronary arteries, to predict heart attack. A number of factors including lifestyle and family history will help decide when this test is appropriate.
Another consideration from age 45-50 (or younger if you have a family history) is cancer screening. The main types of cancer we screen for in men are prostate and bowel cancer although others (thyroid, testicular, skin and lung) can also be considered. As well as specific cancer tests we also run some more general blood tests to assess things like liver and kidney function.
Dr Neil Forrest is based at IMC Camden. Visit www.imc-healthcare.com or call 6733 4440 to make an appointment.