Regular visits to your health care provider are important to screen for medical issues, reduce risk of complications and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Yet compared to women, men are 24 percent less likely to have visited their primary care provider within the past year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Yet staying current on recommended preventive screenings is an important step in maintaining your health and wellness. Many health concerns, such as high cholesterol, often don't result in symptoms that you can feel, but their long term effects can be detrimental to your health. Routine wellness visits and preventive screenings help you identify and treat concerns early, develop a strong relationship with your health care provider and ultimately lead to a healthier you.
In your 20s
Even as young as age 20, routine physical examinations, including blood tests and urinalysis, are recommended. Men age 20 to 39 should have a physical examination every three years; men age 40 to 49 should have a physical examination every two years; and men age 50 and older should have a physical examination performed every year.
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Men should have a routine blood pressure check every two years. Over time, high blood pressure, or hypertension, can cause permanent damage to your organs. The only way to diagnose high blood pressure is through routine checks.
Age 30 and up
Beginning around age 30, men should begin cholesterol screenings every five years. For individuals with high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or certain other conditions, more frequent screenings will likely be necessary.
At age 45, diabetes screenings are recommended every three years, or more frequently for those who are overweight or at high risk.
50 and older
For men age 50 and older, the list of routine screenings grows. Men in this age group should have a prostate cancer screening, such as prostate specific antigen blood test, each year. In the United States, it is estimated that one in 38 men between the ages of 40 and 59 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age.
Routine screenings over age 50 can help health care providers find and treat cancer early. Often by the time symptoms appear, prostate cancer may be at an advanced stage where it is more difficult to treat and more likely to have spread.
Colonoscopies are recommended every 10 years for men age 50 and older, who are at normal risk. If a family history of colorectal cancer is present, a primary care provider may recommend screenings begin at an earlier age.
Low-dose computed tomography (low-dose CT) is a lung cancer screening recommended for men ages 55 to 74 years old who currently smoke, have a 30 pack-year smoking history or who have quit the habit within the last 15 years. Pack-years are calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person smoked.
Regardless of age, men should conduct regular skin, testicular and breast self-exams. Follow up with your health care provider if you identify any abnormalities or areas of concern during a self-exam.
Routine screenings can identify health concerns early when they're easier to treat. It's important to work closely with your primary care provider to be sure you receive the proper health screenings at each stage of life, regardless of overall health and wellness.