You should visit your health care provider regularly, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for medical issues
- Assess your risk of future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations
- Help you get to know your provider in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your health care provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol levels also may not have any symptoms in the early stages. Simple blood tests can check for these conditions.
There are specific times when you should see your provider. Below are screening guidelines for men ages 40 to 64.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
- Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years. If the top number (systolic number) is between 120 and 139 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 and 89 mm Hg then have it checked every year.
- Watch for blood pressure screenings in your area. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. Or check your blood pressure using the automated machines at local grocery stores and pharmacies.
- If the top number is greater than 140 or the bottom number is greater than 90, schedule an appointment with your provider.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to have your blood pressure checked more often.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING AND HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
- If you are age 35 or older, you should be checked every 5 years.
- If you have high cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often.
- Some men should consider taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks. Ask your provider before you start aspirin because aspirin may increase your risk for bleeding.
- If you are age 45 or older, you should be screened every 3 years.
- If you are overweight, ask your provider if you should be screened at a younger age. Asian Americans should be screened if their BMI is greater than 23.
- If your blood pressure is above 135/80 mm Hg, or you have other risk factors for diabetes, your provider may test your blood sugar level for diabetes.
COLON CANCER SCREENING
If you are under age 50, you should be screened if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps. Screening may also be considered if you have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.
If you are between ages 50 to 75, you should be screened for colorectal cancer. There are several screening tests available. Some common screening tests include:
- A stool occult blood test done every year
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years along with a stool occult blood test every 3 years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colon cancer, such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- A history of colorectal adenomas
- Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits
Have an eye exam every 2 to 4 years ages 40 to 54 and every 1 to 3 years ages 55 to 64. Your provider may recommend more frequent eye exams if you have vision problems or glaucoma risk.
- You should get a flu shot every year.
- Your doctor may recommend other vaccinations if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.
- You should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster vaccination every 10 years. If you have not received a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine as one of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines, you should have it once.
- You may get a shingles or herpes zoster vaccination once after age 60.
- If you are between ages 50 to 70 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should discuss screening with your provider.
- Risk factors can include long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, having a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis.
- Your blood pressure should be checked at least every two years.
- Your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) should be checked at every exam.
During your exam, your provider may ask you about:
- Diet and exercise
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Safety, such as use of seat belts and smoke detectors
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING
- Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their provider. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer in a first degree relative younger than age 65 should discuss screening at age 45.
- The potential benefits of PSA testing as a routine screening test have not been shown to outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. If you choose to be tested, the PSA blood test is most often done every year.
- Prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on men with no symptoms.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends against performing testicular self-exams. Doing testicular self-exams has been shown to have little to no benefit.
LUNG CANCER SCREENING
The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who:
- Have a 30 pack-year smoking history AND
- Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
Health maintenance visit - men - ages 40 to 64; Physical exam - men - ages 40 to 64; Yearly exam - men - ages 40 to 64; Checkup - men - ages 40 to 64; Men's health - ages 40 to 64; Preventive care - men - ages 40 to 64
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Update Date 5/22/2015
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.