By Alicia Wanek
Americans today are healthier than ever before. In the last four decades or so, our life expectancy has increased by approximately five years thanks to changes in the way we live. Many factors contribute to our longer lifespan. Smoking has decreased significantly, we are eating healthier and exercising more, our air quality is far better, there are new and better vaccines and more people getting them, and there is an increased focus on preventative health. Physicians are working to identify risk factors and to prevent disease progression by catching it in its early stages. Much of the success is attributable to advancements in radiologic screening and exams.
However, when it comes to seeking medical care, there is a discrepancy between men and women. Men are half as likely to see a physician as women over a two-year period. Perhaps it is worth re-examining what could motivate men to get preventative exams and to see a physician when they are first experiencing symptoms.
Being Able to Take Care of Those They Love
For those, especially of a certain generation, the burden to provide for family is compelling. Additionally, in these post-COVID times, many women have chosen or been forced to leave their jobs to stay home with young children, amplifying the pressure on the men.
The truth is, that in order to take care of the special people in their lives, men need to take care of themselves first.
Being healthy has a direct correlation to the immune responses of the body, and health screenings and check-ups are vital components of self-care. Physicians regularly prescribe lung screenings, prostate exams, bone density tests, and even diagnostic mammograms (yes, men can get breast cancer, too), such as those offered by Envision Radiology, for men as part of routine preventative care.
More Time to Spend Enjoying Life
Being sick means using up days off, but it also affects the time men have for leisure activities. In a report from December 2020, the Integrated Benefits Institute reported employees covered for sick time, workers’ compensation, disability, family and medical leave benefits are absent about 978 million days due to illness and incur an estimated 540 million lost workdays due to underperformance on the job by employees with chronic health conditions. This totals almost 1.5 billion days annually of illness-related absence.
If Americans are missing out on that much work due to illness, how much are they also missing out on fun? What if men could use their sick days to enjoy a day golfing or a long weekend away with their wives rather than actually being home sick? A quick visit to a physician and likely, radiologic screening exams, may mean more time to do what they enjoy.
Money can be a big incentive. Health care can be expensive, and the more advanced a condition becomes, the more it can affect finances. A paper published by the American Economic Review in 2018 shows “that for a substantial fraction of Americans, a trip to the hospital can mean a permanent reduction in income. Some people bounce right back, but many never work as much again. On average, people in their 50s who are admitted to the hospital will experience a 20 percent drop in income that persists for years. Overall, income losses dwarfed the direct costs of medical care.”
Today’s advancements in imaging can expedite accurate diagnoses, and ultimately decrease the cost of treatment. For example, the World Health Organization points out that studies in high-income countries have shown that treatment for cancer patients who have been diagnosed early are two to four times less expensive compared to treating people diagnosed with cancer at more advanced stages.
Radiologic exams play a key role in diagnosis. For example, Envision Imaging and their state-of-the-art 3T magnetic resonance has been shown to be up to 97% accurate in detecting clinically significant prostate cancer and plays an important role in pre-operative planning and treatment planning.
When patients get to a physician early in the disease process and get accurate diagnoses with the help of imaging techniques, they can improve their financial health as well.
In this case, simple vanity may be the incentive for men to take care of their health. It is not surprising that exercise and proper diet improve physique but being healthy from the inside out affects how others perceive us physically in many ways.
Our bodies respond to disease, often in seemingly unrelated ways. Those with cardiac disease, for example, can present with a variety of dermatologic conditions, and poor bone density affects posture. When researchers from the Netherlands had subjects rate photos of 602 people, those with lower blood sugar were thought to look, on average, a full year younger than those with higher blood sugar levels. Often nuclear medicine techniques can examine organs of the body to detect disease that can be affecting the way men look – and feel. It can be a cyclical phenomenon – psychologists say feeling good means looking good, and looking good actually helps you feel good, too.
Much can impact men’s sexual performance, to include vascular health, heart health, low testosterone, or prostate concerns. Envision Imaging provides radiologic options to examine all of those. Men’s reluctance to seek medical advice could be impacting their virility unnecessarily. Again, early detection and treatment can impact their long-term sexual health.
In the CDC survey, men named being too busy as the primary reason they put off medical care, but second was being afraid of finding out what could be wrong followed closely by being uncomfortable with exams. With whatever motivation necessary to realize early detection pays off in the long run, men need to visit a physician regularly, especially if they are experiencing any symptoms. Additionally, many of today’s imaging techniques decrease the number of uncomfortable exams and, quite possibly, the number of visits altogether for men. Ensure those extra years are the best they can be.
Editor’s Note: For more information about preventative imaging options, visit www.envrad.com.