With Father's Day coming up, now is a good time for dads to take stock of their health and make sure they're current on screening tests for leading diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
"The earlier we diagnose conditions, the more successfully we can treat them,"
said Loyola Medicine primary care physician Michael Gill, MD, Ph.D.
Dr. Gill recommends men undergo the following screening tests, based on guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and other expert bodies:
Body Mass Index:
This is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI under 18.5 is underweight. Normal is 18.5 to 24.9. Overweight is 25 to 29.9, and obese is over 30. BMI should be checked yearly.
Men should be screened beginning at age 50. The gold standard is a colonoscopy. Other screening exams include a yearly fecal occult blood test (which can find blood in the stool) or, every five years, a fecal blood test combined with an exam called a sigmoidoscopy, which examines the lower part of the colon.
Men with risk factors such as a family history of diabetes, being overweight, or experiencing diabetic symptoms should be screened with a fasting blood test that measures the amount of blood sugar.
If a patient or his spouse reports a hearing problem, or if the patient works in a job with excessive noise, Dr. Gill will order a hearing test.
High Blood Pressure:
Every man over age 18 should have his blood pressure checked at least once a year.
Men ages 20 to 35 who have cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes should be screened. After age 35, men should be screened once every five years if normal, or more often if levels are borderline.
Beginning at age 55, men should discuss with their physicians the pros and cons of the PSA prostate cancer screening test and jointly decide whether the test is appropriate for them.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm:
This is a bulge in the large blood vessel that supplies the abdomen and lower body. If it ruptures, it will cause severe bleeding that often is fatal. Men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked should be screened with an ultrasound.
Dr. Gill also screens men for depression, smoking and alcohol abuse and talks to men about controlling their weight, getting enough physical activity and avoiding risky sexual behavior.
"Do your best to stay healthy,"
Dr. Gill advises fathers. "It's a big part of being a good dad."
Loyola's primary care physicians provide patients with custom care for conditions ranging from common ailments to chronic diseases.
Dr. Gill, who is trained in internal medicine and pediatrics, sees patients of all ages at the Loyola Center for Health at Park Ridge.