Happy Father’s Day: Make sure you have many more

Staying active helps reduce risk of chronic disease

On the day we celebrate fathers, I address one of the few things my husband and I disagree on: my husband refuses to go to the doctor for a physical and preventive screenings.

My 40-something-year-old husband is apparently healthy, based on the following:

  • Very active (cycling an average of 150 miles/week and is a competitive cyclists)
  • Eats healthy – registered dietitian for a wife
  • BMI = 24.8 with a healthy body fat percentage (I test is regularly)
  • At his last cholesterol check, his LDL was well below 100 mg/dL
  • Family history of chronic disease is non-existent. Two-grandparents died in their 90’s of natural causes and a third is still alive in her 90’s. The fourth died at an early age from an accident. His parents are mostly healthy in their late 60’s.


I guess I should find comfort in that my husband’s attitude is normal in the sense that he does not go to the doctor unless he is sick. But he doesn’t get sick. His only “illness” in the last 20 years has been orthopedic injuries, dog bite, and road rash. His cholesterol and glucose was checked when we got our life insurance upgraded seven years ago, and he got his tetanus booster after the dog bite in 1998. Earlier this year he got a VO2 Max testwhich he feels is as close to a physical as he needs. I check his blood pressure on occasion, and it is fine. Finally, as required by law for his job, he gets a DOT physical every 2 years, which should not even be called a physical considering no blood work is done and they don’t make him turn his head and cough.

Because men like my husband are the majority in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently launched the Healthy Men campaign for getting men to get the screenings and tests that they need to cut their risk of chronic disease.

Here are the screenings they want men to get:

  1. BMI – body mass index: this ratio of height to weight is a tool to determin if you are a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. You need to know your current height (please not stretching the truth) and weight to assess your BMI. Go here to find out your BMI. http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
  2. Cholesterol: not just your total cholesterol, but the entire profile including LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Once men reach the age of 45 they are at higher risk for heart disease. If your father, grandfather, or a brother has already been diagnosed with heart disease, you smoke, or you are overweight or obese (based on your BMI), you are at greater risk for heart disease.
  3. Blood pressure: nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure and a third of them don’t know they have it. Check your blood pressure regularly and keep it in check. Excess weight, smoking and stress may increase your blood pressure.

There are several other screenings men need, including fasting blood glucose to check for diabetes, colorectal cancer (starting at age 50), prostate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, STI’s, and many others. For more information for you or the man in your life check out the website for Healthy Men at http://www.ahrq.gov/healthymen/index.html, click on the “Get Preventive Medical Tests” to see what other tests to ask for. It also provides information on what questions to ask when going to the doctor. Unfortunately, men are less likely to ask questions once they get to the doctor.

So, Happy Father’s Day to my husband, my father (a 15 year cancer survivor thanks to my mother insisting he go to the doctor), and my father-in-law who are alive and apparently healthy. Here is hoping they are still alive and apparently healthy for next Father’s Day and many more.

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