Health care becomes more and more specialized the older you get and it’s important to be aware of the conditions and diseases that you are more prone to as an adult male. While going to the doctor can be tedious and even intimidating, staying on top of your regular exams and check-ups can help you lead a healthy, full life.
To stay informed about your health and prevent illness or disease, talk to your doctor about taking these five blood tests at your next visit:
Top 5 Blood Tests for Men's Health
According to scientific research, men are more prone to high blood pressure, or hypertension, and heart conditions. This can lead to further complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, heart attack or stroke.
While it may not seem like a big deal now, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked at least once a year so it doesn’t persist or get worse. If you experience chronic headache, pounding or irregular heartbeat, fatigue, vision problems, chest pain, confusion or difficulty breathing, you could have high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about how to improve your heart health and lower your blood pressure.
Speaking of heart health, it’s also good to schedule a regular lipid screening with your annual check-up. Lipids are fats that play an important role in cell structure and function. They store energy and mobilize high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood, otherwise known as “good” and “bad” cholesterol. A lipid panel evaluates any abnormalities in the lipids to determine your cardiovascular health.
Being aware of these levels can help lower your risk for hyperlipidemia and coronary artery disease, and promote blood flow in the kidneys, feet and eyes.
There are certain conditions that are almost exclusive to men, such as prostate cancer. The prostate produces a protein referred to as the prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Testing for PSA levels in the body can help doctors get a sense for your risk for prostate cancer or other conditions, such as the inflammation or swelling of the prostate.
While there aren’t set numbers that indicate “good” or “bad” PSA levels, your medical history and PSA trends over time will inform your care team of the best course of action.
Other important organs to keep an eye on are your kidneys. As the body’s main filtration system, the kidneys can become damaged if they aren’t able to cleanse the blood of toxins and waste, like creatinine, a waste produced by muscles when they’re worked. Symptoms of high creatinine include nausea, chest pain, muscle cramps, vomiting, swelling or fluid retention, high blood pressure and itchiness.
Your doctor can test your kidneys’ efficiency by measuring your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This test can help evaluate your risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), or diagnose which stage you are in. It’s crucial to stay on top of this regular exam because CKD patients often don’t detect it until it has already advanced to later stages.
Vitamin D 25-hydroxy test
Your body absorbs calcium through vitamin D, making it essential for strong bones and skeletal health. Vitamin D is produced when the sun’s UV rays come in contact with the skin. Once vitamin D is in your system, your liver processes it into a chemical called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or calcidiol.
Testing for 25-hydroxyvitamin D can help indicate whether your vitamin D levels are too low, causing bone density issues, or too high, which can lead to hypervitaminosis D. This could develop into more serious kidney or liver problems if left untreated.
These blood tests can be performed in your doctor’s office during your annual visit, so don’t wait! The more involved and intentional you can be about your health, the better chances you’ll have of living a healthy, balanced and happy life.