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Wellness Matters: Man Up With a Tune-up

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

Men! Did you know that more than half of you fail to get a physical each year? Or that women are three times more likely to see a doctor for preventive care? In a recent national survey, men said they were too busy to go to the doctor and many said they didn’t believe they were prone to conditions such as heart disease or cancer.

Research shows otherwise. Men have a higher lifetime risk of cancer than women, and higher mortality rates for the top ten leading causes of death. In addition, men’s life expectancy now lags behind women’s by approximately six years.

It’s time to man up and take control of your health. After all, the longer you put off seeing a doctor, the more likely you’ll have to see a doctor on a regular basis. Here are some simple preventive measures you can take:

  • If you’re 18 or older, have your blood pressure checked annually. Undiagnosed hypertension can lead to a host of problems, including kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. “High blood pressure is a preventable and treatable risk factor for many serious conditions, but as many as one in four adults don’t know they have it,” says James Reed, MD. “A yearly blood pressure check will alert you to problems before they escalate.”
  • Jeremy Bock, MD, FACC adds, “While it is uncommon for men to develop severe heart disease in their twenties and thirties, changes that lead to heart disease later in life often begin at this age. Therefore, risk factor identification and prevention of cardiovascular disease should begin in early adulthood. This can limit problems in middle aged and older adults.” Young men in their twenties should have a cholesterol test at least once every five years. If your numbers are high, your doctor may recommend treatment and more frequent monitoring.
  • The average age for a first heart attack in men is 65. However, as many as 10 percent of all heart attacks occur in men before the age of 45, especially if numerous risk factors are present. Never ignore unusual or unpleasant symptoms.
  • “Do not put off your colonoscopy,” stresses Shafik Sidani, MD. “An average-risk individual should have a screening colonoscopy at the age of 50. Screening implies that we are looking for a potentially treatable condition (colorectal cancer) that frequently exists without any symptoms. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or are experiencing inexplicable rectal bleeding or change in bowel habits, you may need a colonoscopy earlier as the incidence of colorectal cancer is rising in younger individuals.”

You can learn more about these and other conditions at Virginia Hospital Center’s free, men-only health event in October. Physician experts will be on hand to discuss some of the biggest health risks for men and what you can do about them. The event is free, but registration is required. Visit www.virginiahospitalcenter.com/events to register today.

The Male Tune-Up
Saturday, October 24, 2015
9:00 -11:00 am
John T. Hazel, MD Conference Center
1701 North George Mason Drive, Arlington

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