As men under 75 are twice as likely to die from preventable causes than women, it's more important than ever for our loved ones to stay on top of their health checks.
It’s vital as men age that they keep a handle on looking after their body and mind as they age. As with most things, prevention is key and there are simple things we can do each day to stay healthy," says Dr. Kieran Kennedy, medical doctor and psychiatry resident.
"The list below is by no means exclusive, and it’s important to remember that check-up items will depend on your current health, current and past conditions, family history, and other factors," says Kieran, "But always encourage the man in your life to see GP know what checks and screens are right for him."
Here is a guide to the basic checks the man in your life should be getting once they hit 35 and above:
"Cardiovascular disease is one of the top causes of disease and death in men - and this is something that really starts to ramp up as he enters middle age," says Kieran.
"It’s vital that a regular check of blood pressure, heart rate, weight, body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference, and other measurements are made with a GP. Blood pressure, in particular, is a good gauge here, and if things are looking a little high it’s important this is followed up with a doctor," he advises.
"A leading cause of ill heart health and a range of other risks in men as we age can come down to what’s happening with our sugars. As the body ages, changes in how it regulates blood glucose might need a closer watch to prevent type 2 diabetes," says Kieran.
"Keeping a regular check on his blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance (a measure of how our insulin is mopping up sugar in the blood) is vital for men, and these - along with weight and diet - should be checked regularly with your GP."
Cholesterol and fats
"Another key contributor to heart disease and stroke are high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (forms of fat) floating through the pipelines. When fats are too high in the bloodstream they quite literally can block the pipes," explains Kieran.
"By aiming to keep our weight in check and watching out for too much dietary fat, cholesterol, and fats in the blood can be kept to a minimum. Ensuring the lad is talking to a doctor about options for treatments for high fats can be vital too; catching things earlier rather than later is always the best medicine," he says.
Kieran says that mental health is something that needs to be on every man’s radar, and this doesn’t change as he gets older. As it is for younger men, those over 35 still hold some of the highest rates of mental illness and suicide.
"It’s vital that the man in your life remembers the importance of the inside, and that thinking about his thinking and feeling what he’s feeling can have massive benefits for inside and out. Particularly as things ramp up with work, family, and commitments, it’s important to keep a regular check on how the mental side of things is doing," he says.
"Checking in and chatting with family, friends, a GP or other mental health professionals about any warning signs for anxiety, mood, and high-stress levels can make a huge difference. There’s also room to set a strong foundation for the health of mind in place as he gets older. Protecting our sleep, exercising regularly, and making time for things that make him feel good can have huge benefits," explains Kieran.
Routine cancer checks
"Testicular cancer most commonly hits young men, but it’s important the bloke in your life continues to make some regular self-checks of the machinery down below as he ages, too," explains Kieran.
"Any irregularities or lumps should be chased up with a formal check with a GP. Prostate cancer screening is something often asked about, and talking further to his GP about the options here is the best plan. Whilst screening for prostate cancer in men without symptoms or history isn’t agreed on by all, if there’s a strong family history or any concerns with the waterworks getting this regularly checked is a biggie," he says.
Bowel Cancer takes the lives of thousands of men each year, and for men over 50, a regular screening test to pick up blood in the stool every two years is recommended. "If he’s noticing frequent changes in bowel habits or bowel contents it’s vital to get this checked out as soon as possible," advises Kieran.
"Keeping an eye on marks and moles to catch skin cancer as early as possible should be on every man’s to-do list. It’s important he keeps a regular eye on moles and areas of skin change as he ages, and any significant changes in size; colour and sensation/pain should be checked out by a health professional straight away," explains Kieran. "A regular go over and check-up with a GP or local certified mole mapping outfit can mean the difference between catching something early versus late."
"Dental health is something that continues to be vitally important as your man gets older, and making sure he’s seeing a dentist at least once a year is key," says Kieran.
"For many people, tooth and gum issues accelerate with age, so ensuring he’s up to date with checks and treatments, and is brushing and flossing daily will keep everyone smiling!"