‘Invincible heroes’ need checks too

La Femme Correspondent

MEN are encouraged to pay a little extra attention to their health, as June celebrates Fathers’ Day – and South African men in particular should be doing more to take care of themselves.

According to clinical operations executive at Pro Sano Medical Scheme Dr James Arens, , data from some medical schemes reveals that, when it comes to claiming, different trends pertain to men and women.

Arens points out that, according to a survey conducted in the United States during 2010, men are more prone to certain diseases than women, and should therefore be equally meticulous about maintaining their health.

For example, although coronary heart disease becomes more common among women as they get older, this is a condition that primarily affects men.

Lung diseases, such as emphysema, are also found more readily amongst male patients, as men tend to smoke more than women.

Also, men usually consume more alcohol than women, which explains why they are at greater risk for liver conditions and other viral infections associated with the liver, such as hepatitis.

Diabetes is another condition which finds its greatest number of victims amongst men.

Finally, certain cancers are more likely to affect males than females. Cancer of the prostate and lung are the most commonly found in male patients, followed by throat, colo-rectal and bladder cancer.

Arens notes most of these diseases can be managed and treated through early detection and therefore recommends male patients follow a rigorous screening programme from the time they turn 30 or 35 years old, at the latest.

“It’s important to undergo a general check up every year,” Arens points out. “Factors to be assessed during these examinations should include, amongst others, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. You should also undergo all basic screens, including a full blood count and a basic liver function screen.”

More targeted screens include prostate exams, which can take the form of either a digital examination or a blood test and which screens for Prostate Specific Antigen, chest x-rays to detect lung conditions, and urine and stool tests to check for bladder or colo-rectal cancers.

Depending on lifestyle and age group, a man may be at higher risk for certain conditions. For example, smokers who are at risk for developing lung diseases need to be tested more regularly than their non-smoking counterparts. On average, says Arens, tests and screens should be conducted on an annual basis, or at the very least, every second year.

“Although men may view themselves as invincible heroes, they can only be protectors of their families if they take care of their own health first,” Arens concludes.

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