Paul Brown, PA-C
James Valley Community Health Center
During the crazy summer months, it may be easy to forget about our health. Between barbeques, swimming, and more it is important to remember Men’s Health Month in June. It is recommended that everyone, young and old, strive for healthy lifestyles and yearly physical examinations. With the two measures combined, men will be able to reduce risks of disease and live a more energized, fuller life.
Therapeutic lifestyle choices should be used as our first-line defense to prevention of common diseases in the years to come. Generally, these are a few healthy lifestyle choices which are most beneficial if followed every day:
• Diet: Aim to achieve a balance of consumed calories and calories used. There are several tools available through applications and website calculators, including websites like CalorieKing. In general, a diet is healthier with less processed, packaged and canned foods with more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean non-fried and non-breaded meats. Avoiding ‘junk’ foods such as soda pop, potato chips, candy, etc. and reducing calorie intake are both healthy choices. Processed and packaged foods and ‘junk’ foods are more likely to have a lot of sodium, trans fats, and sugar, which have been associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and some cancers.
• Smoking cessation: Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and plays a role each year in nearly 6 million deaths worldwide and 400,000 deaths in the United States. Smoking is responsible for about a third of all cardiovascular deaths and is associated with numerous types of cancers, a decline in lung function often leading to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, increased risk of infection, increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis (bone loss) and hip fracture, erectile dysfunction, decreased fertility, gastric (stomach) and duodenal (small intestine) ulcer disease, oral disease, and a long list of other conditions. Risks for most of these conditions are greatly reduced by smoking cessation The South Dakota QuitLine is helpful for smoking cessation by offering a personal live quit coach and free cessation medication. For more information inquire of http://sdquitline.com/ or contact your healthcare provider.
• Exercise: Routine physical activity is associated with health benefit and the greater the amount of physical activity, the greater the health benefit. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, general adult recommendations include avoiding inactivity with long periods of sitting and performing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. A brisk walk is an example of moderate-intensity activity and jogging is an example of vigorous-intensity activity. Aerobic activity should be at least 10 minutes long. Additional benefits are found with even more activity.
Preventative care and management of current medical conditions is a primary focus of the yearly physical exam. The prerequisites to heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, prostate cancer, and a multitude of other diseases are often recognized during the yearly exam and may be avoided altogether, the onset delayed or the severity reduced with simple lifestyle adjustments and/or inexpensive medications. Yearly exams include a number of health screenings.
Some of the common chronic conditions:
• Hypertension: High blood pressure, values above 140mmHg systolic and/or 90mmHg diastolic. According to various years of The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey it is estimated that approximately 29 to 31 percent of adults in the US have hypertension and as much as 8% of US adults have undiagnosed hypertension. Increases risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and other conditions. Best to have yearly screening for hypertension and to have a visit at least every 6 months for management of well controlled hypertension.
• Hyperlipidemia: Elevated LDL cholesterol or elevated triglycerides. Elevated LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. Over time the LDL cholesterol will build up in the walls of arteries and will often lead to a narrowing or blockage of the artery, if this occurs in the coronary arteries this may cause death of heart tissue (heart attack). Diet, weight, physical activity, age and gender, and genetics all play roles in cholesterol levels. The US Preventative Services Task Force recommends that everyone age 20 and up who is at risk of coronary heart disease be screened for a lipid (cholesterol ) disorder at least once and that all men 35 years of age and older be screened for lipid disorders (See Cholesterol references at bottom of page).
• Diabetes Mellitus: Insulin resistance or insulin deficient, leading to hyperglycemia, or too much glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood. It is estimated that approximately 5.9 to 12.9% of US adults have diabetes. About 14% of all medical expenditures in the US are due to diabetes. Hyperglycemia leads to damage of arteries, both large and small. Long term elevated blood glucose levels increase risks of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, blindness, and hospitalization from conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis. A large number of lifestyle choices and lab studies should be evaluated for the patient with diabetes on a routine basis. People with uncomplicated diabetes mellitus should have visits at least every 3-6 months and typically much more often if uncontrolled.
• Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer accounts for roughly 26% of new cancer cases in men (page 38 of NCCN guidelines version 3.2016 Prostate Cancer). Prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing may be useful for detection of prostate cancer, but may also lead to false positive results and unnecessary treatment. There is debate in the medical world about the use of the PSA. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a baseline PSA screening is suggested around age 45 with repeat testing every 1-4 years depending on the PSA level for men ages 45-75.
Information used in this article can be found at: