Men's Health Week aims to bridge the men's health gap

GET CHECKED: In Australia, despite being 49 per cent of the population, men account for 53 per cent of the total disease burden.

GET CHECKED: In Australia, despite being 49 per cent of the population, men account for 53 per cent of the total disease burden.

Men's Health Week is a firm reminder for fathers, brothers, sons and friends to take control of their health and defy the statistics.

The event aims to create awareness of men's health issues and encourages men to take stock. General practitioner Dr Amandeep Hansra said that men tend to have worse health outcomes than women globally.

This, Dr Hansra said, is demonstrated by the fact that women outlive men by an average, across the world, of six years (WHO, 2014).

In Australia, despite being 49 per cent of the population, men account for 53 per cent of the total disease burden (AIHW, 2015).

"This is caused by a number of factors but one being that men are less likely to visit a doctor when they are unwell and even when they do see a doctor, they often do not disclose all of their symptoms," Dr Hansra said.

"This has led to effectively 'a men's health gap' and the drive to promote the benefits of accessing health care early on for men, as well as encouraging them to be open about their symptoms."

Dr Hansra emphasised that men should be having health checks for some things at any age such as skin checks (yearly), dental checks and testicular self-examination.

She said for other health conditions, it depended on risk, for example, if a man has risk factors for heart disease he should have his blood pressure checked every two years if he is under 40 and yearly after the age of 40 or if there is a family history of heart disease.

"Cholesterol checks should also be done from the age of 40 or 45 depending on risk factors and in some cases, a GP may recommend other heart disease checks if you are over 50 or are at high risk," Dr Hansra said.

She said other conditions and issues that a GP may screen for include immunisations, diabetes, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, eye disease, bone density checks and mental health issues.

"Many of these checks need to be customised to your risk factors and your GP can help come up with a preventative health check plan for you specifically.

"It is important to have a discussion early on with your GP to see how you can stay healthy and identify any disease as early as possible.

"I would strongly recommend anyone 40 and over to see their GP and discuss what checks need to be completed."

However, Dr Hansra said, regardless of age, if there are any unusual symptoms or concerns about your health, including your mental health and wellbeing, you should book an appointment to see your GP.

"Men often delay talking to their doctor about what they think are embarrassing issues such as sexual health concerns, mental health or alcohol and drug issues.

"As a GP, we have seen it all and it is our job to deal with these issues, so do not be afraid of bringing them up with us.

"Talking to us early about your symptoms may just save your life," Dr Hansra said.

MEN'S HEALTH WEEK CHECKLIST

IN YOUR 20s

  • Annual physical exam to include blood pressure, height, and weight.
  • Vision/dental exams once a year.
  • STD testing/HIV screening every two years.
  • Testicular cancer screening every year: monthly self-exams.
  • Cholesterol testing every five years.

IN YOUR 30s

  • All of the above and blood tests for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anaemia.
  • Screening for coronary heart disease once a year.

IN YOUR 40s

  • All of the above and cardiovascular evaluation every five years.
  • Screening for prostate cancer every year.

IN YOUR 50s

  • All of the above and annual screening for type 2 diabetes.
  • Vision and hearing exams every year.
  • Screening for depression every year.
  • Screening for lipid disorders annually.
  • Screening for colon cancer with faecal occult test, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy annually.

IN YOUR 60s

  • All of the above and annual screening for osteoporosis.
  • Continue colorectal screening based upon previous studies and results.
  • Screening for dementia and Alzheimer's on an annual basis.
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