Health screenings for men age 65 and older
You should visit your health care provider regularly, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for medical issues
- Assess your risk for future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations
- Help you get to know your provider in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol levels also may not have any symptoms in the early stages. A simple blood test can check for these conditions.
There are specific times when you should see your provider. Below are screening guidelines for men age 65 and older.
ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM SCREENING
- If you are age 65 to 75 and have smoked, you should have an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.
- Other men should discuss this screening with their provider.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
- Have your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years. If the top number (systolic number) is from 120 to 139 mm Hg, or the bottom number (diastolic number) is from 80 to 89 mm Hg, you should have it checked every year.
- If the top number is 130 or greater or the bottom number is 80 or greater, schedule an appointment with your provider to learn how you can reduce your blood pressure.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to have your blood pressure checked more often, but still at least once a year.
- Watch for blood pressure screenings in your area. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. You can also check your blood pressure using the automated machines at local grocery stores and pharmacies.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING AND HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
- If your cholesterol level is normal, have it rechecked at least every 5 years.
- If you have high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often.
COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING
Until age 75, you should have screening for colorectal cancer on a regular basis. If you are age 76 or older, you should ask your provider if you need to be screened. Several tests are available for colorectal cancer screening:
You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- A personal or family history of cancer of the colon or rectum
- A history of growths called adenomatous polyps
- Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
- If you are age 65 or older and in good health, you should be screened for diabetes every 3 years.
- If you are overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes, ask your provider if you should be screened more often.
- Have an eye exam every 1 to 2 years.
- Have an eye exam at least every year if you have diabetes.
- Have your hearing tested if you have symptoms of hearing loss.
- If you are age 65 or older, get a pneumococcal vaccine.
- You should get a flu shot each year.
- Get a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years.
- You may get a shingles, or herpes zoster, vaccine at age 50 or older.
LUNG CANCER SCREENING
You should have an annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) if:
- You are over age 55 AND
- You have a 30 pack-year smoking history AND
- You currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
INFECTIOUS DISEASE SCREENING
- The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for hepatitis C. Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV, as well as other infections.
- If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should check with your provider about screening. Risk factors can include long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis.
- Men age 70 and over should consider getting bone mineral density testing.
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING
If you're 55 through 69 years old, before having the test, talk to your provider about the pros and cons of having a PSA test. Ask about:
- Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from prostate cancer.
- Whether there is any harm from prostate cancer screening, such as side effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when discovered.
- Whether you have a higher risk of prostate cancer than others.
For men older than age 70, most recommendations are against screening.
If you choose to be tested, the PSA blood test is repeated over time (yearly or less often), though the best frequency is not known.
- Prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on men with no symptoms.
- Have a yearly physical exam.
- Your provider will check your weight, height, and body mass index (BMI).
During the exam, your provider will ask you about:
- Your medicines and risk for interactions
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Diet and exercise
- Safety, such as using a seat belt
- Whether you have had falls
- Your provider may check your skin for signs of skin cancer, especially if you're at high risk.
- People at high risk include those who have had skin cancer before, have close relatives with skin cancer, or have a weakened immune system.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.