Preventive care is the key to men’s health, doctor says

Heart disease is leading cause of death among men in the United States, CDC reports

A doctor takes a man's blood pressure. (Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels.)

The stereotype that men rarely see a doctor is one that many have likely heard. However, preventive care is critical to overall wellness and can help resolve health concerns before they become major issues.

Dr. Carman H. Whiting, family medicine specialist with UT Physicians, explained the importance of establishing a baseline of care, as well as important health stats to watch.

Physical health

Screening for high blood pressure regularly is important for men of all ages. Although it usually has no symptoms, abnormal blood pressure increases an individual’s chances of heart disease and stroke. As of 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported heart disease as the leading cause of death among men in the United States.

“More often than not, elevated blood pressure does not cause any identifiable symptoms until it is in an advanced stage or the individual has organ damage related to hypertension, such as stroke, heart disease and heart failure,” said Whiting, who’s also an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.

Additionally, starting at age 35, men with no known risk factors of heart disease should begin checking their cholesterol levels. Individuals who smoke, have a high alcohol intake, experience excessive stress or have a family history of the disease should begin screening at the age of 20.

Mental health

Although physical health is essential to maintain for an individual’s overall well-being, so is mental health. Historically, men have been less likely to affirm their feelings of mental distress and seek out professional care. Symptoms of depression can include irritability, lack of motivation and sleep issues.

During annual visits with her patients, Whiting uses a standard screening for depression. The screening is a simple questionnaire meant to open the discussion to this important topic safely.

“In my opinion, this is an excellent way to talk freely and openly about emotional health. It’s standard and given to each patient, removing some of the discomfort around the issue,” she said.

Preventive care

Whiting recommends annual checkups with a physician for men of all ages, in order to detect potential issues before they arise, as well as help them achieve long-term health goals.

“Although you may feel well, there are certain conditions that do not present early on, such as diabetes and high cholesterol,” Whiting said. “This makes an annual wellness visit with your primary care doctor the single best opportunity to find diseases early and to intervene before complications arise.”

In addition, preventive care helps to keep patients up to date on their vaccinations and assist with positive lifestyle changes.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment with a UT Physicians primary care expert, call 888-487-3627, or visit this page.