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Proactive health, bright future: the vital role of regular check-ups in men's health

July 3, 2024
5 minutes
Personal Health
Seasonal health

Studies show that men assume they're healthier than others—even when this isn't the case. 65% of men believe they're "naturally healthier than others in general," while 40% of men state that they get their health advice from social media.

One possible reason why so many men believe they're healthier than others: many health conditions that affect men are silent killers. Heart disease, colon cancer, and high blood pressure can all quickly turn life-threatening, despite patients having no prior symptoms.

Here, we'll explore why check-ups are so important for men, the numbers you should be discussing with your doctor annually, and how you can make small lifestyle changes to support your overall wellness.

Why regular check-ups are essential for men's health

Regular health care screenings and check-ups are essential for men's wellness, yet only three out of every five men get an annual physical. 40% of men only schedule an appointment with their doctor when they have a serious medical condition.

While it can be easy to put off a doctor's appointment when everything is going well, doing so can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, if all U.S. residents received the recommended preventative care protocols, over 100,000 lives could be saved each year.

Regular check-ups also give you a chance to get to know your doctor, allowing them to develop a baseline for your health. For example, if you typically have low blood pressure, your doctor will realize that deviation from that is abnormal for you, even though your number may register as normal on a typical scale. When you're familiar with your doctor through regular visits, you also get to develop a level of comfort that can make it easier to reach out in the event that something feels off.

What to expect during a typical men's health check-up

It's normal to be unsure of what to expect during a check-up if it's been awhile since you've seen a doctor.

Typically, a men's health check-up includes:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will likely check your eyes, ears, throat, reflexes, abdomen, limbs, breathing, heart rate, genitals, and joints. Your doctor will also listen to your heart and address any concerns.
  • Screenings: Depending on your age, family history, and health history, your doctor may take your blood pressure, perform a prostate exam, and/or perform a hernia exam.
  • Lab testing: Your doctor may perform or order lab tests, such medical imaging tests, or a cholesterol screening.
  • Immunizations: Your care provider will likely recommend some vaccinations, such as the flu shot, COVID-19 vaccine, or a tetanus shot.

Your check-up will be tailored to your needs, and your doctor will work with you to address any concerns that you bring to your visit. Your doctor may recommend a follow-up visit to discuss new medications or to monitor a health issue.

Key health metrics to monitor during regular check-ups

Keeping tabs on certain health metrics can help you and your doctor spot health issues early on, leading to simpler/more effective treatment. If your doctor is unable to treat a concern within your metrics, they may refer you to a specialty provider who can provide the diagnosis and care that you need.

Health metrics that your doctor may monitor at your yearly appointments include:

  • Blood pressure: There's a reason healthcare professionals call high blood pressure the silent killer—the condition usually doesn't present any noticeable symptoms until it's too late. Your doctor may talk with you about lifestyle changes or medications that can help control your blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol levels: According to a study from Harvard University, one in six Americans has high cholesterol. Exercising, quitting smoking, and eating a diet low in processed food can all help to lower your cholesterol.
  • Waist circumference: Keeping an eye on your waistline can help you understand your risk for certain health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The risk of developing these conditions rises for men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches.
  • Resting heart rate: Used in conjunction with your blood pressure reading, keeping track of your resting heart rate can provide you and your physician with insights into your cardiac and overall health.

The impact of lifestyle on men's health

Your doctor will talk with you about your lifestyle during your check-up. While it can be tempting to fib, be honest with your doctor about smoking, drinking, eating habits, mental health, and other issues that may feel a little uncomfortable to talk about.

Your doctor isn't there to judge you—they're there to help you stay healthy and feel your best. Your doctor has already seen and heard it all, and nothing you say is going to surprise them when it comes to your habits and health. The more information you provide your doctor, the better they're able to support your healthcare needs.

The connection between regular check-ups and longevity

Men are at a higher risk than women for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and suicide. On average, men die six years before women, and getting regular check-ups can help to lengthen your life and preserve the quality of your day-to-day life. Even when you're feeling fantastic, checking in with your doctor once a year can give you peace of mind that you're doing well.

How technology is changing men's health check-ups

From wearable devices to online doctor's appointments, technology is making it easier than ever to get the care that you need. While virtual care can be an excellent stand-in when you aren't able to make it to the doctor and have an acute care need, it's vital that you see your doctor face-to-face for a check-up at least once a year. If you haven't seen your primary care provider over the past year, make an appointment today (and encourage others to do the same).

Taking action before there's a problem is one of the smartest things you can do to preserve your health. When you check-in with your doctor on a regular basis, you're lowering the likelihood that a symptom of something serious could go unnoticed. Tracking your own health can help, too—check out how the Evidation app utilizes your health data (with your permission) to provide content and insights designed to support your needs.

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