“An annual physical exam becomes very, very important once you reach 40; this is when vascular disease becomes more common, leading to heart disease, stroke and circulatory problems,” says Parag Shah, MD, internal medicine physician at Bon Secours Medical Group, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).
When it comes to wellness screenings, men have a poor track record compared with women. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that men are approximately 80 percent less likely than women to see a doctor for regular checkups.
For patients who chronically neglect their annual checkups, Dr. Shah gives this piece of advice: “Take responsibility for yourself. Most people have someone relying on them — a spouse, children, parents, friends or work. Think of your annual checkups as a responsibility to yourself and those who depend on you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you are shirking your responsibility.”
Here are Dr. Shah’s guidelines for what men across the age groups should be screened for at checkups.
20s and 30s
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney function
- Circulatory disease l Diabetes
- Coronary disease l Vision
- Colon cancer
- Prostate cancer
- COPD if you have a history of smoking l Hearing
60s and above
70s and above
Do strokes only happen to older adults?
“Three in four strokes occur in people over age 65, but anybody, at any age, can have a stroke,” says Nancy Allen, RN, BSN, Stroke Coordinator at HealthAlliance Hospital: Broadway Campus, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). “While the stroke risk doubles each decade after age 55, a quarter of strokes occur in people under age 65.”
But many stroke risk factors are in your power to control, Allen says. “Eat well, with heart-healthy choices, whether at home or dining out. Increase your exercise and activity levels. Maintain a healthy weight and waistline. Cut down on alcohol. And if you’re a smoker, quit.”
Have high blood pressure? “That’s the No. 1 stroke risk factor,” Allen says. Other risk factors include diabetes, high blood cholesterol and if someone else in your family had a stroke.” Work with your healthcare provider to manage your medical risk factors, including blood pressure and cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, Allen advises.
Recognizing the signs and surviving
“A stroke is a medical emergency,” says Allen. “Learn the signs — and if you experience any, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away. And make a note of the time when your first symptoms occurred.”
Recognize the the signs of stroke by remembering FAST: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech that’s slurred and Time to call 911.