Why Men Over 30 Need an Annual Physical
“Jason, why should I come in if I feel fine?”
This is something primary care providers are asked all the time. Why do people need to see their healthcare provider even if they aren’t sick, you ask? Regular checkups are important for all patients, but even more so for men. Specifically, there are a few things we find in patients that do not cause any symptoms. At an annual physical we screen for high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol when a patient comes in. With these screenings, we often find abnormalities and the patient doesn’t even know it. This is why it is paramount to come in and see us for an annual wellness check. Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure and historically, we are the most stubborn when it comes to going to the doctor’s office.
Here are some men’s heart health facts from the CDC you should know:
- The leading cause of death for men in the U.S. is heart disease. In 2019, 357,761 men died from heart disease – which is almost 1 out of 4 male deaths.
- In the U.S., heart disease is the top cause of death for males from most racial and ethnic groups which include African Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and Whites. However, for Asian American or Pacific Islander men, heart disease is the second cause of death while cancer is number one.
- Coronary heart disease affects nearly 1 out of every 17 (5.9%) Hispanic males, 1 out of every 14 (7.1%) Black males, and 1 out of every 13 (7.7%) White males.
- Half?of the males who have died suddenly?of coronary heart disease did not display previous symptoms. Even if there are no symptoms present, an individual can still be at risk for heart disease.
As a primary care provider, it is my job to manage risk. I want to make sure we address risk factors that we can control including weight, cholesterol, diet, exercise, and more. Another important thing that we look at is family history. If a 50-year-old male with several risk factors tells me his dad died of a heart attack at age 51, I am going to get him in to see the cardiologist right away. What’s the old saying? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Another risk factor for heart problems that we see regularly is undiagnosed diabetes. People with diabetes are up to 4 times more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those without diabetes. These are all things that we can manage with early detection.
What men can expect at an annual physical
Men often want to know what is involved in a physical before coming in. At a visit, we spend quite a bit of time talking and going over your previous medical problems, any prescriptions you take, and your family history. I’ll also do a physical exam by listening to the heart and lungs and checking the ears and mouth. We then have you go get your blood work done in our lab which is conveniently located on-site. Based on your age, we also screen for certain types of cancers. At age 45 we usually begin screening for colon cancer. Early detection is key and screening is easy.
Approximately a week after your visit you will receive a message from me about your labs. If it is all normal, we can repeat this process in one year. If something is abnormal, we can have you come back into our office to discuss the next steps.
Men are usually skeptical of visiting a primary care provider because they think we will force them into something they don’t want to do. Healthcare is a partnership. We don’t force our patients into anything. We answer your questions and offer the best evidence we have available to help you make informed decisions about your care
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