Taking your health seriously is important at any age, but especially so for men 40 or older. Regular screenings help detect problems before they become major concerns, so have regular checkups and get the proper tests. There are several tests men older than 40 should have regularly.
Blood Pressure Screening Saves Lives
High blood pressure is a problem in itself, but it also causes hardening and thickening of arteries called arteriosclerosis. This places you at risk of serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and damage to other organs like the kidneys and brain. Have your blood pressure checked at least annually by your doctor, using a home blood pressure monitor, or using the automated machines found in many grocery stores.
The target blood pressure reading recommended by experts is 120/80 mm Hg. Your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent screenings if you have high blood pressure or if you’ve had a high reading.
Cholesterol Screening Indicates Risk for CHD
Image via Flickr by RambergMediaImages
Cholesterol is an important screening for men over 40, but the American Heart Association recommends the National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines, which suggest fasting lipoprotein profiles every five years for anyone age 20 and older. These guidelines also suggest that men 45 and older should have this screening done more often. Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL and higher indicates high cholesterol. These people have twice the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) as a person with a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL. The ratio of good cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDLs) to bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins or LDLs) is also important. Healthcare providers consider these test results along with the patient’s other risk factors in determining the best course of treatment.
EKGs and Stress Tests on the Heart
An EKG (electrocardiogram) or exercise stress tests on the heart are a good idea for any man over the age of 40 who experiences chest pain or has other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. This test helps diagnose coronary heart disease, or a narrowing of the arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
Allergy Screening for Adult-Onset Allergies
Many adults suffer from adult-onset allergies, or new allergies to foods, substances in the environment, and other allergens. Hay fever in adults who have never experienced allergies is increasingly common, so an allergy screening is a good idea if you experience symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, skin rashes, sneezing, or runny nose.
These symptoms are often treatable with antihistamines. If you suspect you’re suffering from adult-onset allergies, consider turning to ZocDoc, Vitals, or RateMDs to find an allergist and help treat severe symptoms.
Diabetes Screening for Men with High Blood Pressure or Cholesterol
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that often leads to serious consequences if undetected, such as blindness, kidney disease, heart failure, and other serious complications. Men with a blood pressure of 135/80 mm Hg should have a diabetes screening every two years – regardless of age. Men over 40 with high cholesterol should also have a type 2 diabetes screening. Men without high blood pressure should begin having diabetes screenings every two years at age 45.
Colonoscopy for Those with Increased Risk Factors
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recommends that men with a family history of colon cancer begin having colonoscopies at age 40. If your doctor finds precancerous (adenomatous) polyps during a colonoscopy, more frequent testing is necessary than the typical 10 years. Men without a family history or other risk factors of colorectal cancer can hold off on getting a first colonoscopy until age 50. Your provider will offer recommendations based on your personal risk factors.
At age 20, many people take their health lightly. But beginning at age 40, it’s time to start taking your personal health and wellness seriously. Obtaining the proper screenings regularly saves lives for many men, thanks to advanced testing that aids in early detection of many life-threatening and chronic conditions.