Health checks men should know about

Posted on: 16 November 2016 by 50connect editorial

Grainne McCarthy, Clinical Lead at Elder, offers common sense health advice for men over 50.

Man cycling

While according to the Office for National Statistics, the life expectancy for men has increased by as much as 5.4 years in the last three decades – meaning that men on average can expect to live to the age of 83 – the life expectancy is still shorter than for women. As November is the awareness month for pancreatic cancer and a chance to grow a spectacular moustache, it is the perfect opportunity for men to look at and take care of their general wellbeing.

Blood pressure

Both men and women should keep track of their blood pressure, especially past the age of 50. High blood pressure can damage the walls of your arteries, which can increase the risks of conditions like heart and kidney disease, as well as stroke. You should aim to have your blood pressure measured once a year – blood pressure below 130/80 is considered normal and healthy.

Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer amongst men in the UK, so it is essential that you attend your screenings and monitor any changes. The UK has a bowel screening program, which covers both men and women from the ages of 60 – every two years you will receive a testing kit from your GP, allowing you to detect any problems early on and address them quickly.

Prostate cancer screening

At the age of 50 and above, men should discuss getting screened for prostate cancer, and men who have a relative affected by the disease below the age of 65, should consider screenings from the age of 45. There is a significant debate around PSA tests, as they can sometimes lead to unnecessary biopsies and cause anxiety for men – however, due to the checks becoming more routine, a number of cancer cases have been diagnosed and treated earlier. Should you wish to opt for a regular check-up, they are usually conducted once a year.

Cholesterol tests

It is also important that you keep track of your cholesterol levels – if your cholesterol is too high, it can block blood flow in the arteries and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. If you are being treated for high cholesterol or if you have other risk factors such as increased risk of heart disease, you might need to take the tests quite frequently. If these are just part of regular check-ups, you don’t need to do them more than once in 4-6 years.

Weight

Additionally, men should also make sure to watch their weight as they age. With age, our metabolism slows down; muscle tissue is replaced with fat, which means weight gained in later years is more difficult to shift. Keeping track of your weight and eating a healthy balanced diet can decrease your risk of a number of conditions, such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease and even bone loss.

Eye tests

Even if your eyesight is perfectly fine and you’ve never needed glasses before, it is a good idea to get your eyes checked every two years. Regular eye tests will check for abnormalities or disease around your eyes and pick up conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma – spot these early and receive treatment to greatly reduce the risk of complication and keep your eyes healthy for longer.

Skin checks

Irrelevant of age, our skin is something that we need to keep a close eye on, especially any moles – while the vast majority of these are harmless, some can be indicative of skin cancer. If you notice a mole that is changing shape, size or colour, make sure to make an appointment with a GP, who can diagnose it and refer you to a specialist if needed. 

Visit Elder for further health care and advice.

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