We all know the age-old trope that men need to toughen up and avoid showing weakness. Maybe that’s also why men tend to avoid going to the doctor—often until it’s too late.
Studies show men aren’t paying enough attention to their health or speaking with their doctor regularly about health concerns. In fact, according to a 2019 Cleveland Clinic survey, about 50% of men have avoided getting an annual physical and other preventive care measures, though 82% said they wanted to stay healthy for the sake of their family, friends and business.
“Many professionals pay way more attention to their businesses than they do their own health–and that’s a problem,” says Curtis Chastain, MD, medical director of the Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Men’s Health and Executive Wellness Center.
As a result, men are more likely to develop heart disease, aortic aneurysms, kidney stones and chronic illnesses. They carry more excess body fat on their waistlines, making them more prone to heart attacks.
And because they don’t pay attention to their health as closely as women do, the life expectancy for men is five years less than women, according to a 2019 Harvard study.
The age group of men most likely to skip out on doctor’s visits is around 35 to 54 years old. That’s also around the time men are recommended to start scheduling regular checkups.
Here are some general guidelines for men to consider by age group:
Men in their 30s
Now’s the time to start thinking about cardiovascular health. If heart disease runs in your family, talk to your doctor about your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other factors related to your heart. You should be scheduling routine checkups every other year in your 30s.
Men in their 40s
Routine checkups should take place yearly starting in your 40s. Recommended screenings for certain types of cancer also come into play at this point. In fact, the American Cancer Society dropped the recommended age for colon cancer screenings from 50 to 45 years old in 2018 as a response to an uptick in colorectal tumors among younger patients. Find out more about the signs of colorectal cancer.
Men in their 50s and Older
You should be discussing a variety of milestone medical tests and screenings with your doctor. At this point, colon cancer and prostate cancers should be discussed with your doctor regardless of family history. Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar should all be checked regularly.
“Hope isn’t a good strategy for success in business. Why would it be any different when it comes to your health?” Dr. Chastain says. “The goal of being healthy should be strategic and purposeful, just like a business plan. I tell my clients to make themselves their next successful business, and that starts with a comprehensive checkup.”