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November is Men’s Health Awareness Month. However, implementing and taking charge of healthy lifestyle decisions is a year-round commitment. Lifestyle changes and interventions have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Higher incidences of chronic disease and conditions like obesity and diabetes are increasing, emphasising the importance of preventative health and identifying risk factors early.
We’ve highlighted some of the essentials men should check regularly based on evidence-based practice.
Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
In early adulthood, from your 20s to your late 30s, pay attention to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Neither of these things can be felt but can silently affect your heart, brain and other organs. A family history of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes can put you at higher risk and therefore be checked more frequently.
There is also a worrying upward trend of diabetes, so consider getting your blood sugar tested. A better test called glycated haemoglobin (also known as HbA1c) is recommended.
Testosterone levels drop off as men get older. For most, this won’t require any treatment, but very low levels can cause problems with libido, energy levels and erectile dysfunction. Again a simple morning blood test can show if there is a problem.
All men should consider more detailed cardiac screening over 50. This can be in the form of a treadmill stress test or other more accurate tests such as a CT calcium score test, a stress echocardiogram or a CT coronary angiogram. Which test is best can be decided in consultation with the doctor. Even younger men who perform strenuous exercise could benefit from such cardiac testing.
Do consider cancer screening too. For younger patients, the main concern is skin cancer, so do come in for a skin check, especially if you have noticed any changes in your moles. As men get older, prostate cancer and colon cancer become concerns too. Generally, screening for these should start at 50 (younger if there is a family history). Prostate cancer screening can be done through a combination of a clinical examination and a simple blood test. Colon cancer screening takes the form of a stool test or a colonoscopy referral. Thyroid and testicular cancers can often be picked up on clinical examination.
Regular checks give you the best chance to pick up cancer early when it is easier to reverse and treat. Almost all the tests are simple and non-invasive. We can discuss your health concerns and work with you to stay healthy for longer.
Screening for Vitamin D can also be considered, as most of us spend most of our time indoors. Low Vitamin D levels can cause fatigue, weak bones and even heart disease. A simple blood test can reveal if you are at risk of this.
At IMC, we offer personalised health screenings based on evidence-based practice for your age and risk factors and listen to your concerns.
Dr Dex Khor
86-88 E Coast Rd, #02-07, Singapore 423371
PH: 6342 4440
Dr. Dex Khor graduated from University College London in 1999 and later obtained Membership of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Dr Dex worked in UK Paediatric wards before returning to Singapore. Dr Dex has also worked in KK children’s hospital. Dr Dex is a member of the Society for Men’s Health, Singapore and is fluent in Mandarin he is based at IMC Katong.