June might be filled with summer fun and Father’s Day celebrations, and health care experts also hope men find time to schedule an annual wellness visit. After all, June is Men’s Health Month – when men are encouraged to prioritize their physical and mental health.
“Annual wellness visits are vital to maintaining good health and can help prevent serious health conditions,” said Scott Hetzel, MD, internal medicine physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Berlin. “These medical checkups are opportunities to take a comprehensive look at a person’s health, identify any potential health issues, and help an individual make lifestyle changes that can prevent serious illness or injury.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death for men in the United States are heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, accidents, and stroke.
“Some of these causes are largely preventable or treatable conditions, which means making time for your health – regular check-ups, screenings and lifestyle adjustments – is important,” said Dr. Hetzel.
Other top health concerns for men that could significantly impact their lives include diabetes, liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and depression.
“Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing stress can go a long way in preventing these conditions, especially heart disease,” said Dr. Hetzel. “Our care teams are here to help men understand the importance of focusing on their health.”
The Wellness Visit
During a wellness visit, your doctor will check your vital signs, review your medical history, and perform a physical exam. Practitioners also will make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations, ask questions about alcohol and tobacco use, screen for some conditions and offer tips to live a healthy lifestyle.
Doctors also may recommend additional screenings, which detect health problems early when they are most treatable. Here are some screenings men usually receive during their wellness visit:
- Blood pressure screening: High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Get your blood pressure checked at least once every two years, or more often if you have risk factors such as a high-stress lifestyle.
- Cholesterol screening: High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Men over the age of 35 should have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years, or more often if they have risk factors such as a high-fat diet.
- Mental health screening: Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are common mental health issues for men, especially following the pandemic. It is often more difficult for men than women to admit they’re struggling with mental health issues. Providers want to remind men that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
During a wellness visit, there are also cancer screenings that might be recommended, including:
- Skin cancer: Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and men are at a higher risk. Recent statistics show 60 percent of all melanoma deaths were white men over the age of 50. A screening can help detect abnormal growths or changes in moles that could be a sign of skin cancer.
- Prostate cancer: It is the most common cancer among men. Men are advised to have a conversation with their physician about whether the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is right for you and what the best age is to be screened – as early as 40 or as late as 50, based on family history or other risk factors.
- Colorectal cancer: It is the fourth most common cancer in men, and younger men are being diagnosed with the disease at a growing rate. Most men who are at an average risk for colon cancer should begin regular screenings at age 45. A colonoscopy can detect precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer, which can be treated more effectively. Other non-invasive options are available for men who are considered low-risk.
- Lung cancer: Smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer. For men who are at high risk of developing the disease, particularly those who have smoked more than 30 years, a new low-dose CT scan is used to detect lung cancers early.
Men also are encouraged to do monthly self-exams to detect any changes or abnormalities in their testicles, especially if they are between the ages of 15 and 35. Doctors advise men to contact their health care provider if they notice any changes or lumps.
Dr. Hetzel hopes men feel empowered to take a proactive approach to their health.
“Many of the most common diseases can be controlled or mitigated if caught early, and many are asymptomatic in their early stages,” he said. “By scheduling a wellness visit and staying on top of screenings, you can catch potential health problems early and take action before they become serious.”
By establishing a relationship with a primary care physician, men are more likely to experience success on their journey to optimal health. To find a ThedaCare primary care physician, visit the “Find a Doctor” directory.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.