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Men’s Health: raising awareness

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Staff Sgt. Anthony Presti, medical laboratory technician with the 21st Medical Squadron, examines a blood sample at the 21st MDS clinic at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 18, 2018. Providing blood samples can identify health risks such as high cholesterol and other heart issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --

 

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month and medical personnel at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, are advocating for male service members to get a checkup as a preventive measure for health risks.

“Regular checkups can help find problems before they start,” said Maj. Emerson Raza, family medicine physician and flight surgeon at Schriever AFB Family Medicine.

Many risks can go unnoticed, and traditional risk factors vary for different male age groups.

“Risks include cardiovascular disease, mental illness, diabetes, liver disease and accidental injury,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Presti, medical laboratory technician with the 21st Medical Squadron.

These risks have long been recognized by the medical community.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s website, younger males tend to engage in higher risk activities and are predisposed to contracting sexually transmitted infections; they are also prone to abuse alcohol and other drugs. Self-harm and suicide are factors that are higher among younger males as well.

The website stated males ages 40 and older have an increased risk for prostate and colon cancers, high cholesterol and heart disease, especially if these ailments run in their family.

Fortunately, the 21st MDS’s Schriever AFB clinic offers medical consulting services as well as routine procedures such as lipid and glucose tests to help asses one’s health and spot risks early.

“Our clinic performs routine screening exams, and laboratory and imaging as needed,” Raza said. “Additionally, we provide educational flyers for most medical conditions.”

The 21st MDS offers these services free of charge and many procedures are required as part of a service member’s Physical Health Assessment. Other resources include the Health and Wellness Center and fitness center, both provide avenues for men and women to lead a healthier lifestyle.

However, the stereotype of men being less willing to seek help from a medical professional continues to hold true. According to a Center for Disease Control study, women are 100 percent more likely to visit medical facilities for annual checkups than men.

“We have a cultural belief about masculinity that tells men they need to be tough and self-reliant,” Raza said. “We found masculinity was related to delays in seeking health care. For some, it’s the fear of medical results and sometimes embarrassment.”

Raza said it’s important not to let pride get in the way of one’s health.

While it may seem like an inconvenience to some men, undergoing a medical checkup, seeking medical advice and following preventive measures is an action which can lead to a better, and longer, life.

“Being proactive about one's health should be of the upmost importance,” Presti said. “This puts patients in the best possible position for early, effective treatment.”

To schedule an appointment through the Schriever AFB clinic, call 524-2273. To find out more about Men’s Health Awareness Month, go to menshealthawareness.org or visit the National Institutes of Health’s website here.

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