Tackling Men’s Health: Reversing the Pandemic Mindset

General, Men's Health, Preventive Service Steward Health Care

Primary Care Providers Stress Importance of Screenings

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, and, as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no better time for men to assess their health and focus on fitness and proper nutrition as well as receiving the care they may have overlooked during the past year. The pandemic brought major disruption to many routines, including annual physicals with primary care providers.

“COVID-19 saw an increase in obesity, alcohol misuse, and mental health issues in men’s health,” said Dr. James Shina, an Internal Medicine physician with Steward Medical Group. “The problem has been that during the pandemic, the outlets to help with these (gyms, therapists, etc.) were not available. We now need to reverse the pandemic mindset and get people back into the groove of exercise, proper dieting, and seeking help for mental health issues. This includes getting back into their PCP to get their yearly physicals done, making sure all screenings are up to date, and talking with their doctor about any issues they may be experiencing.”

Screenings are an important tool in assessing health risks and providing patients with preventive care. There are numerous screenings that are a vital part of men’s health.

Top screenings

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: All males age 65-75 who currently smoke or have ever smoked require this screening (typically an ultrasound test)
  • Cholesterol Level Checks: Males age 35 and above 
    • Men who use tobacco; are overweight or obese; have a relative who had a heart attack before the age of 50; or have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of heart disease need to start at age 20
  • Colorectal cancer screening: new guidelines suggest this start at age 45 unless there is a family history, then starts at age 40 or the age that is 10 years before age of diagnosis of relative (whichever is sooner)
    • Ex: patient’s mother had colon cancer at age 48 – first colonoscopy would be at age 38 (not 40)
  • Depression (any age)
  • Diabetes – anyone with hypertension
  • Hepatitis C: recommended if born between 1945-1965
  • HIV – all men age 65 and younger
  • Obesity (any age)
  • Prostate cancer screening: recommended to start at age 50 with digital rectal exam along with serum PSA – individualized conversations with patients after that
    • Any family history of prostate cancer may be reason for earlier screening

“The most common causes of disease and death did not take a break because of COVID. Heart disease, stroke, and cancers are still common occurrences and need to be addressed and monitored appropriately,” said Dr. Shina. “This was a big problem in 2020. People refused to go to the ER or be admitted to the hospital with chest pain because they were scared of COVID. Physicians have spent a lot of time dealing with complications of these issues since patients were reluctant to go to their doctor’s office or be evaluated at the emergency room with symptoms. We urge anyone who is experiencing any medical issues to talk with their doctor and seek the care they need.”

Tips to stay healthy

  • Avoidance of tobacco
  • Be physically active most days of the week for at least 20 minutes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated/transfats as well as processed carbohydrates
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid excess sun exposure, especially without sunscreen
  • Stay up to date with cancer screening recommendations
  • Stay up to date with vaccination recommendations

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