Top Five Crucial Medical Tests for Men

Find out which exams are a must for men's health.

July 15, 2009, 4:38 PM

July 15, 2009 — -- Many men aren't proactive when it comes to their personal health care needs. A Men's Health magazine and CNN survey found one-third of men would not go to the doctor, even if they were experiencing major health problems, such as severe chest pains or shortness of breath -- both of which are signs for heart disease.

But it's imperative that men receive regular medical exams because they can be life saving. "GMA" medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard explains the five tests men must get and why they're important.

On average, men die 10 years younger than women, but there are really important heart tests you can take to avert risk factors.

The first test is for blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is 115 over 70. If it's more than 130 over 80 that's a red flag.

Home reading is often more reliable than with a doctor. You won't have the anxiety that you can have in a doctor's office that will give you a higher reading.

Blood pressure is the most important risk factor and one that's easiest to control.

The second heart test you should take is the fasting blood test for blood fats and blood sugar. This test determines levels for the good cholesterol, HDL, the bad cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides.

The third test to measure heart health is the tape measure test. It's a more powerful predictor than the scale. If you are 40 inches or more around your waist, it's a red flag for heart disease.

You want to start getting tested at age 18 for heart disease. It's the leading cause of death for young men, other than auto accidents and being shot. If you test early, you can catch heart disease long before you develop it.

Young men from between the ages of 15 and 40 should have a testicular exam. They also should examine themselves and a doctor can tell you how to do it.

The risk of testicular cancer is very small after 40. But men's risk of prostate cancer goes up after 50.

Rectal Exam and PSA Test

Men at age 50 should start talking to their doctor about screening for prostate cancer. That includes: a rectal exam and a blood test called PSA or the prostate-specific antigen test.

It works to find early cancer. Start at age 50 or 45 if you have a family history of prostate cancer or you are an African-American male.

About 50-75 percent of men are screened for prostate, whereas only 30-35 percent are screened for colon cancer with a colonoscopy.

Starting at age 50, men should get regular colonoscopies, unless you have a family history. Then, you need to start sooner. It sounds scary but it saves lives.

Women are more likely to wear sunscreen than men. Often it's already in their makeup.

Skin cancer is totally preventable with vigilant use of sunscreen. It is recommended that men have a head to toe skin exam looking for early signs of skin cancer.

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