Good health equals great father
Men encouraged to pay a little extra attention to their health as June celebrates Fathers’ Day
Are South African men doing enough to take care of their health and, if not, how can they improve the situation? This is a pertinent question as Father’s Day sheds a spotlight on dads this month.
According to Dr James Arens, Clinical Operations Executive at Pro Sano Medical Scheme, data from some medical schemes reveals that, when it comes to claiming, different trends are in place for men and women. For example, women tend to claim more for hospital procedures, chronic medication and tests related to pathology and radiology. Although the data does not reveal the nature of the tests, it is fairly safe to assume that women are more vigilant about undergoing regular health checks and screens than men, Arens says.
“This is not ideal,” he comments, pointing out that, according to a survey conducted in the United States of America 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 oesophageal, colo-rectal and bladder cancer.
Arens notes that most of these diseases can be managed and treated through early detection. He therefore recommends that 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 which screens for Prostate Specific Antigen (SPA), chest x-rays to detect lung conditions, and urine and stool tests to check for bladder or colo-rectal cancers.
Depending on one’s lifestyle and age group, one may be at higher risk for certain conditions. For instance, coronary disease is usually associated with metabolic syndrome which includes hypertension, diabetes obesity and high cholesterol. Individuals showing evidence of a cluster of the above conditions should undergo cardiac screening annually, as they are at higher risk than the general population. Similarly, smokers who are at risk for developing lung diseases also 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. Men are encouraged to spare some time to undergo these tests.
Men at higher risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) should also make use of this opportunity to have themselves counselled and tested for such.
“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.
The Riverbed Agency
Breaking News »