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CHECKING UP: HEALTH TESTS MEN NEED continued...

Blood pressure. By 45, more than one in three men have high blood pressure. Hypertension may take five years off a man's life — good reason to have an annual check. A healthy reading is 120/80 or lower.

Body mass index and waist size. BMI measures whether a person's weight is healthy for his height. A BMI of 25 and over raises risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and arthritis. A waist circumference over 40 inches increases chances of metabolic syndrome.

Cholesterol. Look beyond total cholesterol (healthy is under 200) and bad LDL cholesterol (generally, 100 to 130 is OK). Low levels of good HDL cholesterol (under 40) and high levels of triglycerides (over 150) put men at higher risk of heart attacks and stroke. Guys should have all of these blood fats checked every three years in their 30s, every two years in their 40s, and annually starting at 50.

Blood sugar. One in 10 men have type 2 diabetes, but many don't know it — and are at risk for complications. A healthy guy needs fasting–blood sugar checks starting at 45, earlier (ask his doctor when) if he has a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, low HDLs, or is overweight.

Colon cancer screenings. This is the third most common cancer and the third deadliest as well. Start screening (colonoscopy is considered the gold standard) at 50, sooner if there's a family history.

Prostate cancer tests. Every man should have an annual digital rectal exam starting at 50; make that 45 for African-American men and those who have a family history of the disease. Many physicians advise PSA screens, too, beginning at 50 (45 for African-American men).

Skin exams. More men than women die from malignant melanoma. A monthly self-check and an annual exam by a doctor can help find suspicious growths early. One danger spot for men: the upper back.

 

Originally published on December 12, 2007

 

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