A Health Checklist for Men in Their 40s

Norwalk Hospital
Decades of Health, A Health Checklist for Men, 40s

Summary:

  • Preventive care provided during an annual exam is essential for men in their 40s.
  • Men in their 40s may need to begin having blood tests and screenings for prostate cancer and should discuss their options with their healthcare clinician.
  • Men should have routine dental and eye exams and remember to look out for skin changes that could be a sign of skin cancer.

For men in their 40s, preventive health care is the key to well-being and longevity. Scheduling just one annual exam with a trusted healthcare clinician each year allows men in their 40s to receive essential screenings that can often identify potential health concerns before they lead to conditions that are more serious.

Dr. Michael Schwartz, an internal medicine physician at Western Connecticut Medical Group Darien Primary & Specialty Care, works closely with men in their 40s to help them achieve optimal health. In the wake of the initial COVID-19 surge, ensuring that men in their 40s resume routine health screenings and preventive care is another way they can set the stage for a lifetime of health. Patients can expect positive changes during their next visit to a Nuvance Health Medical Practices primary care office. For more information, visit nuvancehealth.org/safecare.

Michael Schwartz, MD
Dr. Michael Schwartz, Internal Medicine Physician, Western Connecticut Medical Group Darien Primary & Specialty Care

Here’s a checklist of important health screenings that Dr. Schwartz recommends for men in their 40s:

Annual Exam

For men in their 40s, it’s all about preventive care — and preventive care starts with an annual exam.

Lab work is recommended for men in their 40s, including tests to check blood count, blood sugar cholesterol, electrolytes, and kidney, liver, and thyroid function. Healthcare clinicians may also order urine tests, blood tests, or additional screenings based on family history.

“A yearly exam allows healthcare clinicians to identify problems, evaluate them more thoroughly, and provide treatment if necessary,” said Dr. Schwartz. “For example, if we find high cholesterol in a 40-year-old man, we’ll address it and reduce his risk of developing a more serious heart condition in the future.”

An annual exam always includes an assessment of height, weight, and body mass index (BMI). Healthcare clinicians can then make diet and exercise recommendations to help patients lower their risk of obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and joint problems. Healthcare clinicians will also ask about other lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption and smoking, and help their patients find ways to develop and maintain healthier lifestyles.

“I think it’s important to have a dialogue with my patients and to let them ultimately make their own decisions about their health and what’s best for them,” said Dr. Schwartz. “I’ll inform them and give them advice based on guidelines, lifestyle, family history, and the results of their physical exam and lab work.”

In addition to physical health screenings, healthcare clinicians may also use annual exams as an opportunity to screen for mental health conditions. For example, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends depression screenings for all adults.

“If there’s a health concern, we will find it during the annual exam and fix it before it breaks,” said Dr. Schwartz. “The preventive care we provide for our patients when they’re younger results in better outcomes when they’re older.”

Annual exams also allow healthcare clinicians to review the medications a patient is taking and make sure they are working.

“If you’re on any medications, make sure you have routine follow-ups as recommended by your doctor,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Please don’t just refill prescriptions without regularly checking in.”

Although an in-person exam is typically required during an annual physical, men in their 40s may be able to conveniently access follow-up or sick care services from the comfort of their home using Virtual Visits. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a clinician, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

Heart and Lung Health

During their annual exam, if patients complain of cardiovascular symptoms such as chest discomfort, new onset of shortness of breath, or heart palpitations, this will trigger a cardiovascular evaluation including an electrocardiogram (EKG) and possibly a referral to a cardiologist.

Men who are at risk of developing lung problems due to a history of allergies or asthma, inhaled chemical exposure, or smoking — or those who have symptoms of a lung condition — may receive pulmonary function testing.

“Please don’t assume you know what you have,” said Dr. Schwartz. “See your doctor if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms for you.”

Prostate Health

Men in their 40s should talk to their healthcare clinician about when they should begin receiving rectal prostate exams and routine blood testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Both tests can detect prostate cancer before it causes symptoms.

Current recommendations state that rectal prostate exams — also called digital rectal exams — should begin at age 45 for African American males and age 50 for other men at average risk of developing prostate cancer. According to the USPSTF, the decision to screen for PSA levels in men between the ages of 55 and 69 should be made by the healthcare clinician and the patient after discussing the risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as individual risk factors.

Sexual Health

Healthcare clinicians may also test men in their 40s for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if they are having sexual intercourse with different partners, have a personal history of engaging in high-risk behaviors, or if they have concerning symptoms.

Men in their 40s can begin to experience erectile dysfunction. Although some men may feel embarrassed, discussing the problem with a trusted healthcare clinician is the first step toward getting help.

“Men in their 40s may not perform as well as they did in their 20s and 30s, which may or may not be a normal part of aging for them,” said Dr. Schwartz. “It’s okay! Men can talk to their doctor about it, and there are things we can do to help.”

Vaccines

Men in their 40s should be sure to keep up with routine vaccinations, including:

  • An annual flu vaccine
  • A Tdap booster every 10 years to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) or a Td booster to protect against only tetanus and diphtheria

Dental and Eye Exams

Men in their 40s should receive a dental exam and cleaning every six months. Men should also begin to receive annual eye exams starting at age 40.

“Because your cornea stiffens as you age, men in their 40s may start to need reading glasses. However, eye exams at this age aren’t just about vision; they’re about prevention,” said Dr. Schwartz. “You won’t necessarily know if you have glaucoma or an issue with your cornea or retina because you may not experience symptoms. It’s better to be monitored for early warning signs of these types of eye issues than to wait until the problem has progressed.”

Skin Exams

Men in their 40s should be mindful of skin changes and report any concerns to their healthcare clinician. Men who have fair skin, freckles, a family history of skin cancer, or other skin cancer risk factors should see a dermatologist for annual skin exams.

The Bottom Line

Comprehensive preventive care can help men in their 40s identify and treat health concerns before they turn into conditions that are more serious. This health checklist is a great starting point to prepare men for what they may expect health-wise when they’re in their 40s. But remember, everyone is unique. Men should speak with their healthcare clinician about their own personal health history, family health history, race/ethnicity, and lifestyle to know what types of screenings, tests, and support makes sense for them.

To schedule an appointment with a Western Connecticut Medical Group primary care clinician, visit our website or call (203) 739 4700.

CONTACT
Amy Forni, Manager, Public Relations
(203) 739 7478 | Amy.Forni@nuvancehealth.org