How to organise these health checks from the comfort of the couch
Health checks for men? They don’t factor high on most men’s to do lists. However, just like a car, once your body reaches a certain age there are certain things you need to attend to.
If you’re a man over 50, chances are you might be in need of a health-related “tune up”. But it’s not always easy or convenient to get along to the GP when you’re juggling work and family.
Don’t despair – here are five health checks for men you can organise today, all from the comfort of the couch via your laptop or smartphone.
1. Check your cholesterol for heart health
It’s estimated one in two men over 40 will have heart disease at some point in their lifetime, so it’s critical to keep on top of your heart health.
According to the Heart Foundation, about 54,000 Australians have a heart attack each year, which equates to one heart attack every 10 minutes.
High blood fats like cholesterol and triglycerides are a major risk factor for heart disease. Over time they can cause your arteries to narrow, slowing blood flow. They can eventually block them completely – leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Once you’re over 45, your doctor may recommend you get your blood fats checked regularly. This used to require a trip to the pathology centre and a needle in the vein blood test, but now there’s an easier, at-home alternative.
The MyHealthTest Cholesterol Test Service is a simple, at-home fingerprick blood test that measures triglycerides and total cholesterol in your blood.
You can order the test service online and receive the collection kit in the post. It only needs a few spots of blood placed onto a special collection card that’s posted back to the lab.
You can access the results online via a secure website, which you can share with your doctor if you wish. Any results outside of the recommended range are clearly marked on your test results for your follow up and further action.
2. Don’t delay diabetes detection
Diabetes is a condition where your body can’t produce enough insulin to control your sugar levels. If it’s undetected or left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to serious complications including heart attack or stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and even lower limb amputations.
Men with diabetes also have a higher chance of developing sexual and reproductive health problems.
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, which is linked to lifestyle factors and family history.
One of the best ways to prevent type 2 diabetes is to discover if you’re at risk before it even develops. Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having the condition.
You can check your risk of pre-diabetes with a HbA1c blood test. The HbA1c (or glycated haemoglobin) test measures your average blood sugar levels over the previous three months.
The test collection kit is mailed to you and we only need a few spots of blood from your fingertip for our Canberra-based pathology lab to assess your sample.
3. Identify any prostate problems
It’s estimated about a quarter of all men over 55 have a prostate condition, such as an enlarged prostate, inflammation (prostatitis) or prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is also the most common cancer in Australian men, with about 17,000 new cases diagnosed in Australia every year.
If you’re over 50, or over 45 and have a family history of prostate cancer, your doctor may have already recommended regular prostate blood tests.
A prostate blood test measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. A high level of PSA can signal changes or potential problems with the prostate gland, but this does not necessarily mean cancer.
If you’ve discussed PSA testing with your doctor and decide that it’s a good option for you, the new MyHealthTest Prostate Test Service is a convenient, simple and reliable way to take the next step.
We’re offering our new Prostate (PSA) Test Service at half price until midnight 7 March 2018. Order the test online and the discount will automatically apply until March 7.
MyHealthTest’s method of dried blood spot sampling has been extensively validated and is comparable to testing with traditional blood samples in a traditional pathology collection centre.The five top #menshealth checks you can organise from your smart phone. Click To Tweet
4. Be briefed on bowel cancer
Bowel cancer can develop without any early warning signs and the risks are higher as you age. According to Bowel Cancer Australia, once you turn 50 it’s important to screen for bowel cancer every one to two years.
If you have a growth in your bowel, very small amounts of blood can leak from the growth and pass into bowel movements before any symptoms are noticed.
A bowel cancer screening test called a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) can detect these small amounts of blood in bowel movements. And, when you catch it early, 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.
The FIT test involves placing small samples of toilet water or stool on a special card and mailing them to a pathology lab for analysis. The results are then sent back to you and your GP.
This type of test is available online from Bowel Screen Australia.
5. Don’t ignore depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are common among Australian men. On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.
According to Beyond Blue, everyone’s mental health varies during life and moves back and forth along their own personal range between positive and healthy at one end through to severe symptoms or conditions at the other, in response to different stressors and experiences.
If you’re dealing with some challenging feelings or concerned about your mental health, an online checklist from Beyond Blue called the K10 can give you greater insight into how you’re feeling.
Your answers and results are completely confidential. After taking the test, you can print the results for your records or give them to your GP if you’d like to discuss them further.
Other things to consider
It’s important to remember that your age, gender, ethnic background and family history all have a direct bearing on your overall health and your risk factors for common health conditions.
The health checks for men we’ve listed here are tools to help you monitor and keep informed about your health, but they’re not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you’re concerned about any of the conditions listed here, talk to your doctor so they can assess your overall health and wellbeing.