A significant amount of published research has shown that, on average, men have higher mortality rates than women for fatal illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and AIDS. “Men need to make their health a priority. Being healthy requires maintaining a normal body weight, exercising, and not smoking,” says Kevin Ferentz, MD, lead physician for GBMC at Owings Mills.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than 50 percent of men in the U.S. haven't visited their family physician in the past year, and men make half as many doctor visits for disease prevention than women.
“The longer you put off seeing a doctor, the more likely it is that you will have to see a doctor on a regular basis for problems that were preventable,” warns Dr. Ferentz. He recommends that men discuss the following health screenings with their primary care physicians:
- Blood pressure: Every man age 18 or older should have his blood pressure checked annually. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. If your numbers are higher, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or monitoring.
- Cholesterol: Men ages 20 to 35 with a cardiovascular disease risk factor – like smoking or a family history of heart disease - should be screened. After age 35, men should be screened once every 5 years if normal, or more often if levels are elevated.
- Colon cancer: Men should be screened regularly starting at age 50 or younger, especially if there is a family history of colorectal cancer.
- Heart disease: According to the CDC, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49 percent) have at least one of these three risk factors.
- Prostate cancer: Men should discuss prostate screening with their physician.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Men between the ages of 55-75 should consider this screening if they have a risk factor like smoking.
Father’s Day is the perfect time to remind all the men in our families to schedule an annual health review or see a doctor about a health problem. Visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com to find a primary care physician who is right for you.