Let's face it, for men under 50 who live a healthy lifestyle - manage a healthy diet, do not smoke, drink in moderation, exercise regularly, and are able to effectively cope with stress - a routine checkup may seem unnecessary. But in reality, routine checkups may detect health issues early on, even among the healthiest, most active males.
According to a survey done by the US Department of Health's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), men are 25 percent less likely than women to have visited the doctor in the past year and are 38 percent more likely to have avoided their annual cholesterol test.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that men are 1.5 times more likely than women to suffer from heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
Yet, an estimated one-third of American men have not seen a physician in the past year, and 10 percent have not seen one in the past five years. Although men of all ages should have routine checkups with their physicians, men typically don't begin seeking routine care until they are in their 40s. While there may be many individual reasons for this, men are generally reluctant to see physicians because of the following:
- Lack of time
- Lack of trust
- Discomfort in discussing their own health
It's very important to integrate routine checkups as a part of your lifestyle as many of the top 10 causes of death and disability may be prevented or delayed with early diagnosis and treatment. Likewise, many of the physical changes that occur as men age can also be addressed with early diagnosis and treatment.
By establishing relationships with family physicians now, signs and symptoms of conditions, such as high blood cholesterol, can be managed as they occur.
So whether it's as simple as just not wanting to go to the doctor, assuming it's not important or you're just too embarrassed to talk about health matters, remember, routine visits can make the difference between aging well or dealing with what could-have-been preventable health issues later in life.
Methodist Hopspital System and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality