How Healthy Are the Men in Your Life? - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on June 05, 2017

How Healthy Are the Men in Your Life?

By: Adam Holt, MD

Did you know that cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, stroke and diabetes are among the leading causes of death for American men?

A man's risk of developing these conditions can be reduced with a combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular medical care. Routine checkups and screenings are critical for detecting hidden problems and staying healthy.

Get an Annual Exam

The top thing men (and women) can do to help catch and address chronic health issues early is to get an exam by their primary care doctor.

Just as you would have your car maintained to avoid a mechanical issue, an annual "tune-up" gives your doctor a chance to assess your risks and perform general screening tests to help catch things like diabetes, hypertension and other health issues before they become advanced.

You may want to schedule your exam on your birthday or birthday week, so the exam is an "automatic" recurrence on your calendar.

Five Tests to Talk with Your Doctor About

Some key tests to keep in mind and to talk to your doctor about include:

Check Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for young men, other than auto accidents and being shot. If you test early, you can catch heart disease long before you develop it. Tests to talk to your doctor about include:

  • Check your blood pressure. Blood pressure is the most important risk factor and one that's easiest to control. Normal blood pressure is 115 over 70. If it's more than 130 over 80 that's a red flag.
  • Determine your cholesterol levels. The fasting blood test for blood fats and blood sugar helps find your levels for the good cholesterol (HDL), the bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. A fasting sugar is also a screen for diabetes.
  • Take the tape measure test. You might balk, but this is a true indicator of your heart risk. If you are 40 inches or more around your waist, it's a red flag for heart disease. It is also likely an indicator of the need for more regular physical activity.

Testicular Exam

Men between ages 15 and 40 years should have a testicular exam. Your doctor can also help you learn how to do a self-exam. As we ask women to do monthly breast exams, so should men do regular testicular self-exams. This is a rare cancer but one that has over a 90 percent cure rate if caught early.

PSA Test & Rectal Exam

Beginning at age 50, men should start talking to their doctor about screening for prostate cancer. That includes a rectal exam and a blood test called the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA). Testing can begin earlier if you have a family history of prostate cancer or you are of African-American descent. Discuss with your doctor the risks/benefits and current thinking of how a PSA figures into your personal health profile.


Starting at age 50, men should consider getting a colonoscopy to test for polyps and other signs of colon and rectal cancers, and for many that means a test every 10 years.

Skin Exam

Skin cancer is preventable with vigilant use of sunscreen. It is recommended that men have a head-to-toe skin exam by their health care provider to watch for early signs of skin cancer. Some physicians advocate seeing a dermatologist once every two to three years for a full skin exam, especially those who spend summer outdoors, such as golfers, boaters, sunbathers, and gardeners.

Find a Doctor & Make an Appointment

If you or a man in your life needs a primary care provider, we can help! Many of our doctors offer early morning, evening, weekend and same-day appointments at convenient locations throughout Southeast Wisconsin.

Find a doctor now!

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How Healthy Are the Men in Your Life?