On such a broad topic I will focus on those aged 40-74 yrs.
Cardiovascular disease is prevalent in men from the age of 45. This is related to contributions from hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, smoking, alcohol and type 2 diabetes in this age group. Your family history is also important here.
Major cancers affecting men include lung, prostate, bowel and melanoma in that order. Men also have a higher incidence of death from accidents mainly due to risk taking behaviours and the hazards of some male dominated occupations.
Don’t forget mental health. Although women have a higher prevalence of depression, men are more likely to commit suicide. Also depression may manifest differently in men through anger and risky behaviour.
Have you felt down, hopeless or lost interest or pleasure in doing things? Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
In terms of reproductive and sexual health; prostate swelling, erectile dysfunction and testosterone deficiencies can all occur in men over 40. Have you had difficulty urinating or finding that you wake up frequently at night to pass urine? So what can you do?
Ensure you do yearly blood tests for cholesterol, glucose, renal function, full blood count and liver function. Get your blood pressure checked regularly. If you get shortness of breath or chest pain see your G.P. Do a yearly PSA blood test (this test has limitations) and get your G.P. to do a rectal exam to feel for the prostate. Ask the G.P. to do a testosterone level.
Do yearly skin cancer screening checks. Have you developed any new skin lesions or have any changed? Immunise. Do yearly flu vaccines. These are provided free by the government to people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, lung diseases, heart disease and kidney disease as well as to everyone by myhealth medical centres.
If you are over 65 you also get a free pneumococcal vaccine every 10 years. Ensure your tetanus and whooping cough vaccine is up to date as well (not free).
Don’t smoke and if you do ask your G.P. about how they can help you quit. Drink responsibly. 4 standard drinks per day with 2 days off is considered safe.
If you are over 50 you will receive a faecal occult blood testing (FOBT) kit in the mail to screen for bowel cancer. Make sure you do it. If you don’t get one you can ask your G.P. to order the test. If you have a family history of bowel cancer in a first degree relative you should be getting colonoscopies from the age of 40. If you have any rectal bleeding or black bowel motion and you are over 40 get a scope. Also watch out for changes in bowel habits as this can be an early sign of bowel cancer.
GET 30 minutes of continuous moderate physical activity per day at least 5 days a week, for example a brisk walk. Note working does not count as exercise. EAT fruit and vegetables 3 serves per day and DRINK plenty of water. Develop a good relationship with your G.P. They can help you with all of these issues.