June is observed as International Men’s Health Month, prompting men around the world to prioritise their health and look for signs and symptoms signalling health issues, which can be taken care of before they turn serious.
After a certain age, regular health checkups are a must for both men and women, and Dr Niti Raizada, director, medical oncology and hemato oncology at Fortis Group of Hospitals, Richmond Road Bangalore says men above the age of 40 should approach their health in a specific way.
This includes going for tests, and among them is a regular blood pressure check. “Over 80 per cent of people with hypertension do not have any symptoms and the only way to figure it out is by evaluation. Cardiac evaluation would include cholesterol levels and if there is an imbalance, it will have to be corrected before it causes atheromatous plaques in the blood vessels to heart, brain, limbs, etc.,” the doctor explains.
She adds that a stress test on the treadmill is advocated to establish physical conditioning, which is crucial for longevity as well as any indicator of an impending myocardial ischemia. “However, as the sensitivity of this test is about 70 per cent, more advanced tests like cardiac CT evaluation are recommended.”
Next would be to evaluate the pre-diabetic state. “This will help determine if the person is on the course of metabolic syndrome and course correction in lifestyle will need to be immediately adopted to prevent future disorders,” says Dr Raizada.
According to her, the next set of evaluations pertains to cancer. In this, prostate cancer tops the list, and serum PSA is the baseline test. Lung cancer by chest X-ray, colorectal cancer by annual stool examination for occult blood and sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy once every 3-5 years, as indicated. “Screening for testicular cancer is done with ultrasound examination of scrotum. Genetic testing for various inherited disorders and cancers is now possible and a person needs to undergo it only once to evaluate risks.”
Tests should also be done for osteoporosis or weakening of bones, she says, adding that vitamin D is important for absorption of calcium and depositing in the bones, and if this has dropped, it will need to be corrected.
The doctor mentions hormone testing, but one that is not limited to thyroid. “It should include testosterone for hypogonadism, which impacts nearly a third of men above 40. Check for levels of vitamin B12 and serum ferritin for the quality of hemoglobin. Normal hemoglobin values will allow physical activity without breathlessness.”
Other tests to do
* Infectious disease screening for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, syphillis, chlamydia; diseases like Hepatitis C, B.
* Ruling out tuberculosis, which is common in immunocompromised patients.
* Viral markers for Covid and its effects (long Covid) are part of the mandatory testing.
* Dental checkup, dental hygiene.
* Ophthalmic evaluation.
* Preventive examination will include an immunisation plan for annual flu shots, prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia, Covid booster, diphtheria tetanus, herpes zoster/shingles.
* Obesity: A proper diet/nutrition plan as part of the evaluation for men aged 40 and above.