Men's Health Overview
Best Health Screenings for Men Over 50
As we get older, it’s crucial to monitor our health. Even though we may not have any symptoms of an illness, a screening test can catch a small problem before it becomes a big one. ThirdAge has already published an article on recommended screenings for women over 50. (http://thirdage.com/article/most-recommended-screenings-women-50-and-above).
Here, from the experts at SeniorHealth, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is a list of tests men should seriously consider taking:
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Ask your health care team about this test, which detects a bulging in the abdominal aorta, your largest artery. According to the SeniorHealth experts, you should consider this test if you’re between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked 100 cigarettes or more in your lifetime. In a worst-case scenario, an AAA can burst, causing dangerous bleeding and death.
The test is performed via ultrasound, a procedure in which a technician slides a medical device you’re your abdomen. To learn more, visit this link: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003777.htm
Men who are 75 or younger should get a screening test for colorectal cancer, the SeniorHealth experts say. There are a few different ways to do this – for example, a blood test or a colonoscopy. Ask you health care providers which test is best for you. This link will tell you more about the different types of colon cancer screenings: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002071.htm. If you are between 76 and 85, ask whether you should be screened.
If you’ve had persistent feelings, over a period of time, of sadness or hopelessness; or find you have little interest or pleasure in activities, you need to talk to your doctor. You could be suffering from depression, and your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Visit this link to learn more about depression and older adults: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/depression/aboutdepression/01.html.
A common and extremely serious illness, diabetes can cause problems with vital organs including your heart, eyes and kidneys. See what testing for diabetes involves: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/diagnosis/index.aspx#3.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
The SeniorHealth experts recommend a one-time screening for HCV infection if you were born between 1945 and 1965; have ever injected drugs or are doing so now; or eceived a blood transfusion before 1992. Here’s what a hepatitis C test involves: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/pdfs/hepctesting-diagnosis.pdf.
High Blood Cholesterol
You should have your blood cholesterol checked regularly. High blood cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, the SeniorHealth experts say. Here’s what a test involves: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/diagnosis.
High Blood Pressure
The SeniorHealth experts recommend having a blood pressure check at least every two years. High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause strokes, heart disease and problems with eyes and kidneys.
Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure. Learn how blood pressure is tested: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/diagnosis.
Ask your health care team whether an HIV test is for you. Here’s Information about the different kinds of HIV tests: http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/prevention/hiv-testing/hiv-test-types/.
A lung-cancer screening could be in order if you’re between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and smoke now Talk to your doctor or nurse about getting screened for lung cancer if you are between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years. (According to the SeniorHealth experts, your pack-year history is the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day times the number of years you have smoked.) Learn more about lung cancer screening tests: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/lungcancer/faq/faq16.html.
Overweight and Obesity
You can find your body mass index (BMI) by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator, such as the one available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight. People with a BMI of 30 or higher could be obese. Talk to your doctor or nurse about getting changing your behaviors to lose weight, since overweight or obesity can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
Have a dilated eye exam at least once a year, the NIH experts say, if you’re 60 or older. You may need more frequent checkups if you’re at risk for an age-related eye disease or if you have one already. Learn what a comprehensive dilated eye exam involves: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/healthyeyes/eyeexam/01.html.
Be sure to alert your doctor or nurse about any change in your health. Ask them if you should be tested to find out the cause of that change.
For information about prostate cancer, visit http://nihseniorhealth.gov/prostatecancer/symptomsanddiagnosis/01.html. Routine screening for prostate cancer isn’t usually recommended, but if you have any doubts about not taking it, talk with your doctor.
For more information about other senior-health issues, visit http://nihseniorhealth.gov/.