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Routine Health Maintenance for Men

Some say men take better care of their cars than they do themselves. But at least a car comes with an owner's manual telling you when scheduled service is due.

Few health maintenance issues are as predictable as tire rotations and oil changes. But attention to just a few basic health issues can go a long way. Since you can't trade yourself in, it's well worth it to leaf through WebMD's health maintenance and checkup tips for men.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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1. Know Your Cholesterol Levels

The No. 1 killer of men today is cardiovascular disease, mostly heart attacks and strokes. Although the last few decades have seen the rate of death from cardiovascular disease fall, it's still men's top health threat. And high cholesterol is a major preventable risk factor.

The American Heart Association recommends you get your cholesterol checked beginning at age 20, then every five years. Everyone with high cholesterol needs treatment, although for many that will mean diet and exercise.

2. Check Your Blood Pressure

Don't expect to feel symptoms of high blood pressure. Until hypertension's daily pounding of your arteries has damaged your body, you won't notice a thing. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, and medicines are prescribed for pressures of 140/90 and higher.

Why care? High blood pressure causes or makes worse a long list of health problems: heart attacks, strokes, erectile dysfunction, and kidney disease, to name a few. Most cases can be prevented, and controlling your blood pressure is an easy place to start.

First, though, you've got to know your numbers. Call your primary care doctor, or just walk in to your neighborhood fire station -- no appointment necessary.

3. Refresh Your Refrigerator

It's not coincidence that both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society continually advise, "eat your vegetables (and fruits, too)."

Cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, eye disease, diabetes, and other health conditions all involve damage to cells. It's thought that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables -- the best source of antioxidants -- may prevent some cases of these illnesses.

Also, the more plant-based foods you're eating, the less saturated fat and total calories you'll be taking in. Over time, less fat means a healthier weight, improved cholesterol, and better health.

Current guidelines recommend far more daily fruits and vegetables than most Americans eat. Ideally, you should eat mostly plant-based food for most meals, and enjoy meat as a small side dish.

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