Most men,like the men around me, often neglect health screenings that could save their lives.Screening tests are a simple way to detect hidden disease in otherwise healthy looking and feeling people.
Take these five tests as a start so you can have control of your health and to also assess your risk for future medical problems.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement based on your height and weight used to determine if you are overweight. Excess weight increases your risk for cardio vascular diseases.
A BMI ranging between 18-25 is considered to be acceptable and healthy in adults. How to calculate your BMI:
- Weight (kg) 6 divided by Height (m) and then
- Take the above value and divide by height= BMI
e.g 60kg/1.68m =35.71
You can also calculate your BMI here.
A BMI under 18 is considered underweight whilst a BMI of 26-30 is overweight and over 30 is obese respectively.
By making healthy food choices and adopting healthy lifestyle practices, you can keep your weight within the acceptable range.
2. Blood Pressure
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is one of the most common yet easily preventable cardio vascular conditions. High blood pressure can lead to even more serious conditions like stroke, kidney failure and heart disease.
Healthy blood pressure is 120/80.The first number is systolic pressure which refers to the amount of pressure in our arteries during contraction of the heart muscles. The next value measures the pressure when the heart is at a resting state, in between heart beats. It is called diastolic pressure.
BP reading higher than 120/80 mm Hg will need frequent monitoring as it may indicate susceptibility to hypertension.
In a past post, 7 things to know about HYPERTENSION,I shared simple tips and steps you can take to keep your blood pressure in check.
Make blood glucose levels testing, part of your regular health screening. A finger prick screening can give you an idea of how your sugar levels are, however, diabetes screening requires more than a single test. Enquire about fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and haemoglobin A1C blood test.
Blood glucose levels tend to vary depending on the time of the day (which closely links to meal times). Normal blood glucose readings, for non-diabetics in fasting state, are between 4 -7mmol/l.
High blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessel of the heart leading to much more serious conditions like heart attacks, angina or heart failure.
From age 35 regular cholesterol screenings are recommended. In fact, it is recommended that everyone from age 20 upwards should have their cholesterol measured once every five years.
Cholesterol measurements test the levels of:
HDL- Good Cholesterol
You want your total cholesterol reading to be below 200mg/dl.
This overall reading should not be confused with triglycerides level which should stay well below 150mg/dl. High triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
5. Colorectal Cancer
If you are over 50 you should get a colonoscopy. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of death from cancer in men. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you should not wait until you are 50.
A colonoscopy is relatively painless. The doctor will insert a tiny camera (colonoscope) in the anus, through the rectum to the colon so they can see the entire length of the colon. You do not need to be sedated for this procedure but it is highly recommended. The test takes about 30 minutes if all is clear.This test may be uncomfortable but the benefits far outweigh the discomfort as early detection can mean the difference between life and death.
Regular health screening should be part of your health care routine because any irregularities could be picked up early as they pose serious health problems. On top of these screenings, ensure that you practice healthy lifestyle habits that include regular exercise and consuming a largely plant based diet.
One other important area that is often neglected in men’s health is emotional health. Men, like women, face emotional challenges that can be crippling yet there seems to be less support geared towards men. We cannot continue to separate the physical from the emotional. We are all familiar with the socialisation that men should not show their emotions and we have seen and even experienced how badly that has turned out.
Reaching out for help when you feel overwhelmed with life’s challenges is not a sign of weakness but of great strength. It takes a lot of courage to lay bare your soul to another human however, a problem shared is really a problem halved. Do not be afraid to reach out. It may save your life.