Jun 07, 2017

​The guys’ guide to preventive health

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Checklist for your next checkup

What can you do to stay healthy and avoid getting sick? You can get certain preventive care, take medicines and practice healthy behaviors.

When you go for your next checkup, talk to your doctor or nurse about how you can stay healthy, no matter what your age.

Screening tests: what you need and when

Some men need certain screening tests earlier, or more often, than others. Talk to your doctor about which of these tests you should get, when you should have them and how often.

  • Cholesterol checks: At least every five years, starting at age 35. If you smoke, have diabetes or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
  • Blood pressure checks: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.
  • Colon cancer screenings: Get regular screenings starting at age 50. If you have a first-degree relative diagnosed with colon cancer before age 60, you should be screened 10 years earlier (or starting at age 40) with a colonoscopy.
  • Diabetes screening: If you are overweight, sedentary, are in a high-risk ethnic group or have a family history of diabetes, start getting screened at age 40. Get screened every three years.
  • Depression: If you’ve felt “down,” sad or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether you should be screened for depression.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be screened for STDs, such as HIV
  • Prostate cancer screening: Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screenings such as a PSA test.

“Talk to your doctor about which of tests you should get, when you should have them and how often.”

Stay healthy at any age

Should you take medicines to avoid health problems?

  • Low-dose aspirin: Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease if you are older than 40, or if you are younger than 40 and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or if you smoke.
  • Shots: Stay up-to-date with your shots:
    • Have a flu shot every year starting at age 50.
    • Have a tetanus-diphtheria shot every 10 years.
    • Have a pneumonia shot once at age 65. You may need to get it earlier if you have certain health problems, such as lung disease.
    • Talk to your doctor to see whether you need hepatitis B shots.

What else can you do?

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or moderate exercise daily.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. That means a waist circumference of less than 40 inches or BMI less than 25.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. New studies show that even one alcoholic drink per day can raise the risk of conditions like cancer.

Screening test checklist

Take this checklist with you to your doctor’s office and fill it out when you have any of the tests listed below. Talk to your doctor about when you should have the tests again, and put that month and year in the right column.