One of the ways men stay healthy throughout their lives is by participating in continuous medical care. By going to physicians they are familiar with for regular checkups, doctors are able to guide people’s behavior and health – or more importantly, notice signs of a potential problem. The point of these checkups is preventative care, which screens patients and counsels them on avoiding the development of certain illnesses. A lack of preventative care is a major issue facing men’s health today. Whether it is because they don’t have health insurance or because they don’t understand the benefits of preventative medicine, men are becoming ill and dying from avoidable conditions.
Cholesterol & Blood Pressure Checks
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s 2013 data. It’s also responsible for 23 percent of deaths in men between the ages of 45 and 54. Men a little younger or older than this should also be careful and not assume heart issues won’t be a problem for them. Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for men between the ages of 34 and 44 and 55 to 64.
For men over 45, cancer is another leading cause of death. While the disease is not entirely avoidable with a healthy lifestyle or medication, preventative care is crucial to noticing signs of the development of cancer.
Preventative care for men looks for signs of heart and cardiovascular issues by checking cholesterol and blood pressure as well as discussing risk factors such as smoking, diet and lack of exercise. When a man sees his physician regularly, any increase in cholesterol or blood pressure is noted and can be addressed immediately, either with lifestyle changes or medication. Treating the potential causes of heart disease can prevent the need for future medical intervention.
Blood Sugar Tests
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases as men grow older, and a study reported by the Glasgow University in 2011 uncovered that men may be more susceptible to this disease than women. As more than 1 million individuals are newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes each year, a large portion of these individuals will be middle-aged men.
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as avoiding risk factors like smoking, are essential if you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The best way to ensure preventative measures are working is to get checked up on a regular basis. A physician can inquire about symptoms such as increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, vision problems and more. A physician can also run a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, a fasting blood sugar test, or an oral glucose tolerance test to determine if blood sugars are too high. Diagnosing diabetes as soon as possible is crucial to getting it under control and minimizing comorbid conditions such as nerve damage or diabetic retinopathy.
Prostate cancer is relatively common and a danger to all men. According to 2013 estimates reported by the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is one of the most newly diagnosed cancers in men and the second cancer-related cause of death. The National Cancer Institute predicts there will be 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer this year. It also estimates 26,120 prostate cancer deaths in 2016. Men need to be proactive in detecting prostate cancer by undergoing a rectal exam. If there is any worry, men should undergo a blood test that looks for prostate specific antigen (PSA). This can tell a man whether he has cancer and whether it is an aggressive or slow-growing form.
Not only is prostate cancer a threat to men, but other cancers, such as lung, bronchial, colon, rectal and pancreatic cancers, are all leading causes of death in men. Preventative care may detect signs of cancer early, increasing men’s long-term survival rate.
The ACA Enables Preventative Care
A report released in March of this year found approximately 20 million individuals have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. Since October 2013, 8.3 million nonelderly men, those between 18 and 64 years, have gained coverage. That is millions of men who now have access to consistent preventative care. But despite the significant progress made in health care coverage, millions of younger and elderly men still lack insurance. In fact, men lag behind women in obtaining insurance in recent years, according to the report.
At Advanced Medical Reviews (AMR), an independent medical review (IMR) organization, Medical Director Dr. Charles Carnel points out, “Preventative care can lead to a better quality of life for men. The documentation and evidence of this type of care Is often used in the utilization review process through nationally recognized guidelines or medical necessity criteria from insurer policies. The end goal is better health care for men.”
A lack of preventative care is a major health issue facing men today for two reasons. First, not all men are insured, which means they lack access to affordable care. Second, not all men who are insured regularly visit their physicians to partake in preventative care. The reasons behind this are complex and can depend on education, religion, culture and more. However, as the health care landscape continues to shift to a value-based model and more men become insured, there may be an increase in the use of preventative care to avert conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.