Wellbeing: Important Health Checks for Men at Age 50 and Above

Benjamin Ajayi woke up in the middle of the night to migraine with difficulties speaking and weak. The 50-year-old Nigerian businessman had no idea what was happening to him, and he hurriedly alerted his wife, who was sleeping beside him.

He was rushed to their family hospital in the city of Lagos, where his doctor examined him. After running a series of tests on him, it was discovered that he had high blood pressure with a reading of 175 over 110.

His doctor was highly disappointed in him for neglecting the health advice of regular screenings, which would have picked the early signs and saved his family from stress.

Mr. Ajayi’s case is one of many men out there who are only focusing on securing the bag and ultimately neglecting their health. This leads to some drastic consequences like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and so on.

Sometimes, some of these diseases don’t come with an obvious warning, like high blood pressure, which means frequent regular health checkup is paramount.

Unfortunately, millions of Nigerians, especially men, don’t keep up with their recommended preventive tests and screenings.

Blood Pressure Screening: Heart attack is one of the biggest risks of neglecting this screening. Every man above the age of 50 should have his blood pressure checked at least once a year only if the top number (systolic number) is between 120 to 139 mm Hg or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 to 89 mm Hg. But if the top number is greater than 140, or the bottom number is greater than 90, or you are suffering from any heart condition, schedule an appointment with your provider.

Blood Cholesterol Screening: Cholesterol is a fatty substance that floats through your arteries all the time. When in excess, it can clog up your arteries, increasing heart attack or stroke. You should check your cholesterol every 5 years. If you have a high cholesterol level, you need to often check for diabetes, heart disease, and kidney problems.

Blood Sugar Screening: High blood sugar can be a sign of diabetes and can lead to further health complications. Examples of such complications include vision problems, kidney disorders, nerve issues, impotence, and more.

People with diabetes also risk high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. This is why you should put the screening on your calendar, preferably every 3 years.

Colorectal Cancer Screening: The test allows your doctor to spot cancer or precancerous growths in your colon and detect any problem. It is taken every 10 years, but after age 75, you can discuss with your doctor about the need for continuous screening.

However, you should continue the screening if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps, also if you have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.

Prostate Screening: This is the most common type of cancer in men. The screening is done to check for any sign of cancer in the prostate gland of a man. It is advisable to undergo this screening every year.

Testicular Screening: Testicular cancers, most times, are detected at an early stage. Many men find the lump themselves while performing a self-examination, or a man’s sexual partner may notice the change that leads to a diagnosis. After having a warm shower, perform a monthly self-examination to check for any lump, hardness, enlargement, pain, or any unusual change.

Dental Exam: Visit the dentist once or twice every year for an examination and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you need frequent visits.

Eye Exam: Have an eye test every 1 to 3 years. Your doctor would recommend more frequent visits if you have vision problems or glaucoma risk. Have an eye exam at least every year if you have diabetes.

Immunizations: Go for a flu shot every year. Your doctor would recommend vaccinations based on your medical record. Consider having a tetanus-diphtheria booster vaccination every 10 years, if you have not received a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine ever before.

Osteoporosis Screening: Long-term steroid uses, low body weights, smoking, heavy alcohol use, having a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis, are all risk factors of osteoporosis. If you are experiencing any of these factors, you should discuss screening with your doctor.

Physical Exam: Check your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) regularly.

Lung Cancer Screening: Annual screening is recommended for men who have a 30 pack-year smoking history or who have quit within the past 15 years.

Hepatitis C Virus Screening: Hepatitis C is the number one cause of liver cancer. If you have had blood transfusions or received a transplanted organ before June 1992, you may have high risk. It is even hereditary. So it is good to discuss with your doctor for a recommendation.

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