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What Health Appointments Should Men Make as They Age

May 27, 2024 • read

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What Health Appointments Should Men Make as They Age

Being on top of your health and checking in when you suspect health issues is important for a healthy life.

Unfortunately, several studies have shown that men are less likely than women to seek primary care for both their physical health care and their mental health care needs. That’s a major problem because they will miss opportunities for appropriate screening, preventative care, and early detection of certain diseases.

Practicing proactive health by getting screenings at recommended ages even before symptoms arrive can help improve longevity and quality of life. In this blog, we outline the key appointments you need to maintain your health and which tests you need. 

Doctor appointments men should make annually, no matter their age

Primary care doctors

Once you hit 18, it’s time to switch from a pediatrician to a family doctor or general practitioner, who helps people at any age maintain good health. At the appointment, your doctor will perform a physical exam to collect your basic health information, check vital signs, and keep an eye on your health trends over time. They also ensure you get recommended screenings and vaccinations depending on your age and risk factors. 

If you don’t have any pressing health concerns to discuss with your doctor, you may not need an annual check-up. Depending on your age and health risks, you may be able to wait a little longer between visits — but your healthcare provider will tell you how frequently you should go.

Preventative health and screening for men

It is recommended that healthy men are screened for: 

Blood pressure: High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke and should be checked regularly by a health care provider. Performed at most visits is a blood pressure screening to lower your risk of heart attack. Men are twice as likely as women to suffer from one, but a blood pressure test can determine if you’re at risk.

Cholesterol: This is a fat found in the blood. It can form fatty deposits on your artery walls and block blood flow. All men over 40 years should have their cholesterol levels monitored. Early detection of modifiable risk factors can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease by up to 80 percent.

Diabetes: Diabetes is when your body cannot produce insulin or it cannot properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. Insulin’s role is to regulate how much glucose (sugar) is in your blood. Over 3 million Canadians are living with diabetes. Diabetes Canada recommends getting tested with either a fasting glucose and/or a hemoglobin A1C blood tests every three years starting at age 40. This should be done sooner if you’re at a high risk — meaning, you’re overweight or prediabetic, have a close relative with diabetes, have high blood pressure, or have a history of heart disease.

Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone mass and it affects more than 2 million Canadians. This condition increases your risk of fractures; in fact, one in five men will break a bone caused by osteoporosis. Screening for this can be done with bone mineral density testing starting at age 65. 

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge or dilatation in the aorta, a major blood vessel that delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Men over 65 who have ever smoked should be screened for this with an ultrasound. 

Sexually transmitted infections: If sexually active, you should be screened regularly for chlamydia and gonorrhea, because most often these infections have no symptoms at all. 

Preventative care men should seek outside of the family doctor’s office 

Vision: Adults between 20 and 64 should have an eye exam every two years, but those with diabetes should have one yearly. After age 65, you should have an eye exam every year since you’re more at risk of getting weakened vision and having an eye condition.

Hearing: Hearing loss is the reduced ability to hear sounds, whether gradually or suddenly. It can occur at any age, and it has many causes. Contact your doctor for a test if you’re experiencing any issues such as an inability to hear whispers, hear with one ear, or listen at high decibel levels.

Routine Dental Care: Dental health experts recommend teeth cleaning once or twice a year, depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums if you have dental problems and how fast tartar builds up on your teeth. Just be sure to visit your dentist at least once a year — they can help with proactive dental care, treating issues before they worsen.

Cancer screening for men

Skin Cancer: Canadian men are more likely than women to develop melanoma in their lifetime; one in 59 men will develop the cancer. It is important men have their skin screened for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers regularly.

Checking your skin and early detection can improve survival. 59% of melanomas are detected by self-examination, and early melanomas have a 90% survival rate. Seeing a specialist like a dermatologist isn’t always easy — you need a referral, and it can take months to get in. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, virtual care might be the right option for you. If you’re in Toronto, you can try our mole scanning service to learn if you have any suspicious spots. Have a question about a skin condition or hair loss? Dermatologists on Maple who can offer advice and a prescription if necessary, and are available for direct booking without a referral.

Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canadian men — about one in eight will develop it in their lifetime.

Although the average age of diagnosis is 65, men can be diagnosed as young as in their 30s. Indications for screening include:  

  • The Canadian Urological Association recommends early screening. Most men should begin screening with a blood test called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) at age 50.
  • High-risk men are those who have a family history of prostate cancer, are of African or Caribbean ancestry. These groups should consider PSA testing at age 45.

A digital rectal exam (DRE) is when a health care provider inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to assess for any lumps or abnormalities. This can be indicated to investigate symptoms like urinary incontinence, hemorrhoids, or a change in bowel habits. The DRE is no longer recommended as a screening test for prostate cancer. 

Testicular Cancer: Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 35, but is the most treatable when caught early. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends all men should be aware of how their testicles feel and look (the best time to assess this is after a warm shower or bath) and should inform their healthcare provider if they notice any changes. 

Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Canada and is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. Screening tests can include a stool test completed at home, a flexible sigmoidoscopy, or a colonoscopy (using special cameras to look inside the rectum and bowel).

Indications for screening for colorectal cancer include: 

  • If you are aged 50 to 74 and not at high risk, you should have a stool test every two years.
  • If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease or inherited conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch Syndrome, screening will begin at an earlier age. This is determined with your healthcare provider. 
  • If you are over 75 you should consider stool testing with your doctor.
  • If you’re experiencing any persistent changes in bowel habits, blood in stool, or abdominal pain, speak to your healthcare provider immediately — they may recommend a colorectal cancer investigation.

Lung Cancer: Lung and bronchus cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death for both Canadian men and women in Canada — however, more men will die from it than women. If you actively or used to smoke or consume tobacco and are between ages 55 to 74 you should get screened for lung cancer with a low-dose CT scan once every three years until advised to stop. 

Immunizations

Some infections and diseases can be prevented by immunizations. Here’s a breakdown of recommended vaccines, and when you should get them:

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus: For everyone every 10 years
  • Herpes zoster (shingles): For adults 50 and older without contraindications
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): For men 26 and younger, and those 27 and older if they have a risk of exposure
  • Influenza: Annually for all adults without contraindications
  • Measles, mumps: For those born in 1970 or later 
  • Meningococcal conjugate: For healthy adults 24 and older
  • Pertussis: For everyone 18 and older
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide 23-valent: For everyone 65 and older
  • Polio: Everyone in Canada
  • Rubella: For susceptible adults
  • Varicella (chickenpox): For susceptible adults between ages 18 and 49 

While many Canadian men are already consulting healthcare practitioners when concerns arise, it’s crucial to prioritize preventative care. Early detection through recommended screenings significantly enhances the chances of effectively managing and treating potential health issues, thereby reducing the risk of serious conditions.

Medical conditions men should seek care for:

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to complete sexual performances as desired. ED is common, and becomes increasingly prevalent in aging men, with an estimated 40% of men in their 40’s and increasing about 10% each decade.

There are several risk factors for the development of ED that can be addressed to improve the condition, these include: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, and smoking. Your healthcare provider doctor can help you find the right treatment options, but if you can’t make it down to their office, consider talking to a Canadian-licensed doctor or nurse practitioner on Maple about ED.

Mental Health

One in five Canadians experience mental illness. Men are less likely than women to seek mental health services; however, they are more likely to suffer from substance abuse disorders and account for approximately 75 percent of suicides in Canada. Symptoms of a mental health disorder could include:

  • Mood changes, such as excess anger 
  • Loss of interest in activities or socializing 
  • Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Behaviour changes, changes to sleep and eating habits

Mental health disorders can be treated with lifestyle modifications, medications, and/or various therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy or psychotherapy. Your healthcare provider will help you determine what is the best treatment for you such as psychotherapy or medication.

Can’t make it to your doctor to address your mental health concerns? Try virtual care. Maple can connect you with psychotherapists, psychologists, and mental health physicians who can help you in the comfort of your own quarters.

Talking to your primary care provider is an important first step to mapping out your health journey. If you’re among the 6.5 million Canadians who don’t have access to a primary care provider, consider using Maple to connect with a nurse practitioner or Canadian-licensed doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 


The information presented here is for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the advice from your medical professional. Virtual care is not meant for medical emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency like chest pain or difficulties breathing, for example, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

 

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