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Thu, April 25

Celebrating health for every man

The second Sunday in June (June 17) may be when we celebrate Father's Day, but all men-dads, granddads, uncles, brothers, friends and more-are included in National Men's Health Week, June 11-17. The week leading up to and including Father's Day is the ideal time to increase awareness of preventable health problems in men. It's a topic that deserves the spotlight, particularly since the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year.

The AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that men take the following steps to stay healthy:

• Get the screenings you need. This includes getting your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis and monitoring your Body Mass Index (BMI) to prevent weight gain and obesity. Men also should be screened for diabetes, skin cancer and prostate cancer on the schedule your physician recommends. Screening tests for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50. If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and are a smoker, or have ever been a smoker, your physician also may want to screen you for abdominal aortic aneurysm, a potentially life-threatening condition. Your emotional health is equally as important as your physical health, so if you are feeling sad, hopeless, or you have lost interest in activities you once enjoyed, talk to your doctor about getting screened for depression.

• Take preventive medicines as needed. If you are age 45 or older, your physician may want you to begin taking an aspirin every day to help prevent heart disease. Also, make sure your immunizations and vaccinations are up-to-date. This includes getting a yearly flu shot and a tetanus booster shot every ten years. If you're coming up on your 65th birthday, make a note to discuss a pneumonia shot with your physician.

• Be proactive about maintaining good health. Steps you can take include staying physically active, making healthy food choices, getting to a healthy weight and staying there, limiting alcohol intake and being tobacco-free. For step-by-step advice on how to quit smoking, call Arizona Smokers' Helpline (ASHLine) at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.ashline.org.

The benefits of staying physically active go far beyond maintaining a healthy weight. Regular exercise can help men lower their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower their risk of developing high blood pressure, improve the health of their blood vessels, lower their risk of diabetes and strengthen their bones. By following all of these recommendations, men can increase their odds of living longer and healthier lives.

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