Avoiding Regular Checkups has Serious Consequences

Physician Encourages Men to Make Those Appointments

Author: Sherry Farney

The top causes of death among adult men in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The good news is that getting regular checkups and making a few lifestyle changes can significantly lower your risk of these common killers. Experts say it’s critical to not avoid the doctor, especially if you have underlying conditions, but they also warn that many men may not be aware of their risk because they’ve already delayed routine visits.

A study by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that 55% of men surveyed had not seen their doctor for a physical exam in the previous year, even though 40% of them had at least one chronic condition. Nearly one-fifth of men ages 55 and over said they had never undergone screening for colon cancer, and almost 30% said they "wait as long as possible" to seek medical attention when they are feeling sick or in pain.

“Just like your truck needs routine maintenance to keep it running at an optimal level, your body needs periodic checkups to help prevent health problems that can arise with age and time,” said Patrick Gramith, DO, family medicine physician at the McLaren Flint-Fenton Community Medical Center.  “Routine primary care is important to detect ‘silent’ conditions such as elevated blood pressure and diabetes, which often have no symptoms when they're first discovered.”

According to the CDC, men ages 50 and older should be tested annually for the following: blood pressure, cholesterol, colorectal screening, diabetes, Hepatitis B and C virus testing, lung cancer screening, prostate-specific antigen test, sexually transmitted infection tests, and weight and height screenings. Men in this age range should have a yearly flu shot, a pneumonia shot if over 65 or have underlying conditions, and receive a tetanus shot every 10 years.

“For young men in particular, mental health, weight management, vaccinations, and managing smoking/excessive alcohol or other drug use are some of the most important things to discuss with your physician,” said Dr. Gramith. “As men enter middle age, preventing heart attacks and strokes are a top concern, along with screening for prostate and colon cancer. If you have been putting it off during the pandemic, now is a great time to find a new primary care doctor to make sure you're healthy and to keep yourself that way.”

Should you need a primary care physician who is accepting new patients a listing can be found at mclaren.org/flintappointments.