Contributed by: Rachana Arya
A healthy lifestyle should be a lifelong pursuit, but starting at age 50, and especially for men, it’s even more important to see a doctor for routine screenings.
Screenings are medical tests that catch a health risk in their early stages before they get too big and before the fix becomes a little bit too complicated or expensive.
There are multiple conditions that can start cropping up as men get older.
Research has shown a link between age and a variety of health problems, from diabetes and prostate problems to cardiac disease — among others.
None of those conditions is inevitable, of course, but health screenings can prevent an imminent decline in health and reduce the likelihood of a scary diagnosis.
Sometimes it is easy to neglect to undergo a screening test.
However, if you have worrying symptoms, it is important to take them seriously and have them checked out by a doctor.
Men over age 50 should talk to a doctor about what screenings to have and how often.
Read on to find out some of the most important screenings for men as they pass the 50-year mark, but do not include all possible screenings.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is typically one of the top ailments seen by healthcare practitioners in males 50 and older.
Elevated levels of blood pressure put you at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases.
Because there are no symptoms of elevated blood pressure, most men don’t even know they have it.
One reason for the high prevalence of high blood pressure in this age range is that the vascular system changes during this age.
Arteries stiffen and become less elastic, increasing internal pressure, all of which contribute to the rising numbers.
A blood pressure check is an easy, painless, non-invasive screening that can be done in the doctor’s office.
Your chance of acquiring high cholesterol rises with age, just like your risk of developing high blood pressure.
It also has no symptoms or warning indications, which is why it’s critical to see a primary care physician on a regular basis and have routine blood tests performed.
High cholesterol raises the chance of developing heart disease and stroke.
The reason for the high prevalence of high cholesterol in this age range is plaque build-up on the inside of the blood vessels which slows or blocks blood flow.
A blood test is done to determine the level of cholesterol. Everyone over the age of 50 should get their cholesterol levels examined.
Diabetes is a common condition that creeps in as males get older.
High blood glucose levels wreak havoc on health, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other serious conditions, including blindness, kidney disease, and nerve disease.
Diabetes hits senior men more commonly than females, and the chances of developing hyperglycemia — abnormally high blood glucose levels — and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes are greater.
High blood sugar is often the result of cumulative effects of lifelong eating and lifestyle habits.
Given that the warning signs of diabetes can be asymptomatic for a long time, that is why annual screening is important.
There are several diagnostic tests your doctor may run, to confirm a diagnosis. These tests include:
- Random plasma glucose test
- HbA1C test
- Fasting plasma glucose test
- Oral glucose tolerance test
50% of men over the age of 50 are likely to have an enlarged prostate.
While this is not a life-threatening condition, it can create unpleasant changes in patterns of urination.
While not all changes indicate prostate cancer, it’s time to start checking.
A simple blood test called the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test can test for a variety of prostate problems, including infection or enlargement.
All men over age 50 talk to their doctor about having a PSA test.
Another aggravating condition that pops up for men over the age of 50 is osteoporosis.
It causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even simple movements that don’t seem dangerous can cause a fracture.
According to statistics, one out of eight men in India is affected by osteoporosis.
However, the debilitating condition in males largely remains underdiagnosed and untreated and is revealed only after the occurrence of a fracture.
Increased calcium in the blood is one sign of this, which means your doctor will request a blood test to check your calcium level.
Bone density tests can also detect osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Remember, regular screening tests are the foundation of a healthy life, regardless of the decade you’re in.
A health check-up may not seem like, a good idea. But it’s worth it! Just do it.