A common remark I hear from my male patients is “Being a typical man, I just bore with it and carried on. I only came to see you when it got so bad I could not tolerate it anymore.” Or sometimes they say “My wife noticed something and told me I needed to get it checked.”
In health matters, I truly believe in the old adage “Prevention is better than cure.”
Here are some simple things men can have checked at the clinic to look after themselves and stay healthy.
Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
In early adulthood from your 20s to late 30s, do pay attention to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Neither of these things can be felt but can be silently affecting your heart, brain and other organs. Those men with a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes are at higher risk and need to be even more vigilant.
There is also a worrying upward trend of diabetes so do consider getting your blood sugar tested. A better test called glycated haemoglobin (also known as HbA1c) is also suggested.
Screening for Vitamin D can also be considered as most of us spend most of the time indoors. Low vitamin D levels can cause fatigue, weak bones and even heart disease. A simple blood test can reveal if you are at risk of this.
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.
More detailed cardiac screening should be considered by all men over 50. This can be in the form of a treadmill stress test or other more accurate forms of testing such as a CT calcium score test, a stress echocardiogram or a CT coronary angiogram. Which test is best can be decided in consultation with the doctor. Even younger men who decide to pick up serious exercising could benefit from such cardiac testing.
Do consider cancer screening too. For younger patients, the main concern is skin cancer so do come in for a skin check especially if you have noticed any changes in your moles. As men get older, prostate cancer and colon cancer become concerns too. Generally screening for these should start at 50 (younger if there is a family history). Prostate cancer screening can be done through a combination of a clinical examination and a simple blood test. Colon cancer screening takes the form of a stool test or a colonoscopy referral. Smokers and even ex-smokers can be screened for lung cancer too with x-rays or low dose CT scans. Thyroid and testicular cancers can often be picked up on good clinical examination.
Regular checks gives you the best chance to pick up a disease early when it is easier to reverse and treat. Almost all the tests are simple and non-invasive. Do come in to discuss your health concerns with a doctor. We will work with you to maintain your health.
Dr TY Ho has been with IMC for over 12 years and is the Deputy Medical Director based in our Camden Clinic. For appointments please call: 6733 4440.