Houston -

With so many advances in modern medicine, is the traditional annual physical the best way to monitor our overall health? If preventing illness is the name of the game, which diagnostic tests are necessary as we age? And what's the proper course of treatment for common ailments like high cholesterol? The answers are different for every person. For that reason, it can be difficult to provide a specific core list of exams all men need throughout their lives. We asked Dr. John Ott at Specialty Healthcare & Wellness in Bellaire for some advice on establishing a baseline set of medical tests, specifically for men in each decade of life.

Beyond the basic tests we associate with a yearly physical, Dr. Ott is encouraging many of his patients to take three additional tests that are making waves in the medical community -- Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP), Micronutrient testing, and Telomere testing. At Dr. Ott's office, we met two gentlemen who swear by the tests. The guys told me the tests have been life-changing and life-saving. But what do these tests actually measure, how accurate are they, and what do the results mean?

For Jeff Donovan in our original story, the LPP test revealed a risk for heart disease he wouldn't have found through a conventional cholesterol screening. For James Walker, the Telomere test showed he was living in the body of a much older man. For both men, the micronutrient test helped determine the best combination of diet and supplements to achieve optimal nutrition.

What are Telomeres, how do they work, and how do they relate to the aging process? This article from the University of Utah does a good job explaining it. As to the question "is it worth the money?" check out this article from AARP which discusses what I'll call the "Telomeres Debate." The lab that performs these tests is called SpectraCell and you can read more about their methodology by clicking here.

For more general information about men's health and diagnostic testing, read "What Preventative Tests Do Men Need?" from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services or "The Men's health Tune-Up Schedule" at WebMD.

Absorb all the info, take your questions to your doctor, and take action, fellas!