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A MATTER OF HEALTH: June is Men’s Health Month

Some people joke that guys take their cars to the shop more often than they take themselves in for a tune-up.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Father’s Day is June 20, 2021. How healthy is the man in your life? Is he the kind of guy that only sees a doctor when he’s sick? When is the last time he had a physical?

Health experts say there are excellent reasons for men to schedule preventive checkups with their doctor. They include identifying or treating a condition early, or stopping a condition from developing at all. But, those checkups do not need to be annual. The most important thing is to have a relationship with a primary care doctor.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are 24% less likely than women to have annual physicals, and nearly 15% of men are in fair or poor health due to preventable diseases and conditions and irregular medical care. But why are guys so reluctant to get a yearly check-up? Some people joke that guys take their cars to the shop more often than they take themselves in for a tune-up.

Doctors say there are lots of reasons why men choose not to get regular medical care. One of them is that it’s hard to find the time, especially when it means missing work. The coronavirus pandemic has actually helped make this easier. There are now far more options for doing appointments remotely by video or phone. Health experts say preventive health is all about identifying medical conditions at an earlier and more treatable stage, or in some cases stopping a disease from developing at all.

“After age 50, preventive visits are typically best done annually. When we age, more problems can develop, and the preventive visit is designed to pick those conditions up in their earlier and more treatable stages," said UCare’s medical director Dr. Scott Kammer. Topics discussed include vaccinations, screening for certain cancers, and for heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. The visit is also a good opportunity to discuss strategies for weight loss, quitting smoking, healthy alcohol use, and improved mental health.

Dr. Kammer said, “I find that almost all men have at least a couple of questions for their doctors at these visits. While the preventive visit isn’t usually the time to fix health problems that are new or complicated, many patients and their doctors discuss these to some degree at that time. There may be some simple guidance you can get about your symptoms, or you can work with your doctor to set an agenda for future care that you might need in order to go into more detail.”

Medical experts agree when men postpone needed medical care, they put themselves at greater risk for more advanced disease later on that’s harder to treat and requires even more time away for treatment at that time. It's all the more reason to stay up to speed on preventive health. Dr. Kammer provides practical recommendations about the frequency of physicals, what to discuss during the doctor visit and the importance of having a primary care doctor.

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