By Stacey Anderson
Compared to women, men tend to drink more, suffer more from stress and seek medical advice less often. However, men are also living longer and their lifespan is catching up to women. Make sure that your later years are as healthy as possible. As you age past 40, following health recommendations from organizations like the National Institutes of Health is a good way to take control of your health.
Vaccinations are not just for the young, according to MedlinePlus. Consider a one-time vaccination for herpes zoster, which can cause shingles, after age 60. Your doctor might suggest a yearly flu vaccine over the age of 50 and a one-time pneumococcal vaccine after age 65. This latter vaccine protects against the most common cause of pneumonia in older individuals. Health officials recommend booster shots for tetanus-diptheria-pertussis every 10 years.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
If you have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in your lifetime, schedule an abdominal ultrasound at age 65 to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Using high-frequency sound waves, the ultrasound can look for bulges in the main artery in your abdomen. This bulge can indicate an aneurysm. Treatment varies from watchful monitoring of the aneurysm to emergency surgery, depending on its size.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and strokes. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, or 120/80. Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years if it is in this range. If your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, see your doctor as often as he recommends. Your doctor will likely recommend a blood test for cholesterol after age 40, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease. Your doctor may also include a measurement of your triglyceride levels. Repeat your cholesterol tests every 5 years, according to MedlinePlus.
Colon Cancer Screening
Unless you have a family history of colon cancer or personal risk factors like polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, screening for colon or rectal cancer typically begins at age 50. A number of screening tests are available to look for cancer or for treatable precancerous changes. This includes testing a stool sample looking for blood, the fecal occult blood test, or for DNA mutations, also known as a stool DNA test. Using a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy your doctor views the colon to look for suspicious areas and take samples for biopsy.
Enlargement of the prostate can cause urinary problems as one of the first symptoms. This enlargement can be benign, or a sign of prostate cancer. After age 40, your doctor will recommend a yearly digital rectal exam to feel the prostate gland and check for abnormalities. The prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test is another screening method. This blood test measures levels of PSA, with high levels possibly indicating cancer.
As you age your risk for Type II diabetes increases. Screening for diabetes, using a fasting blood glucose test or blood A1C test, should begin at age 45. Generally, repeat screening is every 3 years although your doctor might recommend a more frequent screening schedule depending on your risk factors.
Other Screening Tests
Get your hearing tested every 10 years after age 40 and every 3 years after age 50. Mental health screening for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is available if you or your family is concerned about your decision-making ability or possible memory loss. Over the age of 40, you might find yourself divorced and newly dating. Discuss sexually transmitted disease screening, including an HIV test, with your doctor. This is especially important if you are going to begin a new sexual relationship.
Treatable eye diseases can cause blindness if you ignore symptoms for too long. In addition to checking your visual acuity, your eye specialist will examine your eyes for signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. Your risk for these eye conditions increases after age 40. The recommendations for eye checkups are every 2 years after age 40, according to MedlinePlus.