This is a guest post by Kristen Nichols Heitman, MPH, an epidemiologist in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She received a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in epidemiology from Georgia State University.
Summer is officially upon us. For many people, it kicks off with a month of graduation parties, weddings and Father’s Day festivities. But between the backyard barbecues and afternoons at the pool, we can’t forget to celebrate National Men’s Health Week, which takes place June 13-20. The goal of this annual campaign is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
And here’s why. Compared to women, men are less likely to attend annual checkups or seek medical care. Studies show that men are also more likely to drink or smoke – activities that can cause serious harm to their health.
The leading causes of death in men are heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries. Therefore, it’s important to remember that health screening tests can find diseases early when they are much easier to treat. Many of these tests are now covered under the Affordable Care Act or Medicare.
This month, encourage the men in your life to be proactive about their health and receive these important health screenings:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm – important if you’ve ever been a smoker
- Cardiovascular disease – talk to your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent some heart diseases
- Colon cancer – beginning at age 50
- Hepatitis C Virus – get tested if you were born between 1945 and 1965, have ever injected drugs, or if you’ve received a blood transfusion before 1992
- High blood cholesterol – beginning at age 35 and once every five years
- High blood pressure – have checked at least every two years
- Lung cancer – if you are between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30-pack-year smoking history, and smoke now or have quit in the past 15 years
- Osteoporosis – even though men are at risk, a new study shows men are less likely to be screened for bone loss
- Overweight and obesity – calculate your BMI and try to stay between 18.5 and 25
Staying up-to-date on immunizations will also prevent disease. The following are recommended vaccines:
- Flu vaccine – the best way to protect you and others from the season flu
- Tdap vaccine – protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough
- Get the Tdap vaccine booster every 10 years
- Those over 60 may need additional shots to protect against pneumonia, shingles and other diseases
During annual physicals, men should talk to their healthcare provider about screening tests appropriate for their age and lifestyle. A way to prevent disease is to stay healthy by being active and eating healthy. A healthy diet and physical activity can help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight. Drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking are also greatly beneficial to your health.
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.