Health checks & assessments for men – investing in your health
Health check or health assessment, what is the difference?
A health check is generally aimed at preventing health problems in the medium- and long term, but also looks for health problems that may already be present but are still silent (ie no symptoms have yet developed, which for some diseases can take up to 10 years).
A health assessment on the hand is aimed at those who already have one or more overt health problems. The assessment is aimed at giving advice on how to best manage these problems, or how to improve and streamliine any existing treatments (in partcular when medications have already been prescribed).
In the paragraphs below, ‘health checks’ refers to both health checks and health assessments.
What is unique about my health checks?
I offer a personalised and integrative (‘holistic’) approach to my health checks, bringing together physical, mental and sexual wellbeing (read more under ‘My work & my approach’ on the home page). Also, where possible and appropriate, nutritional science solutions are offered as first-line management rather than pharmaceuticals.
Objectives of the health check
- To enhance your quality of life and sense of vitality (slowing down the ageing process is an integral part of the health check) by addressing the many factors that lead to the Western world’s many health problems
- To look for and reduce your risk of developing conditions with major impact on quality of life such as cardiovascular disease, auto-immune diseases (eg rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease) and cancer
- To improve fertility when couples are having difficulty conceiving or are considering having chidren.
- To reduce the future financial costs of treating health problems that could have been prevented
Who should have a health check?
- All men. The sooner men have their first check, the better. I encourage men in their 20s to start having health checks, to maximise the preventive potential of the process.
- Even if you have already developed significant health problems, it is It is never too late to prevent other health problems or slow-down worsening health.
- Many men wrongly assume that because they are feeling well, they are in good health. The human body has evolved to function even when multiple body systems have started to fail. It can take many years before these system failures translate into feeling unwell.
- Men who are experiencing fertility problems.
- Men who are experiencing sexual difficulties, in particular erection difficulties as these are a sign of poor health (physical as well as emotional).
How often should you have a health check?
Men younger than 40 should have a health check every 2 years. Men 40 and older should have a health check every year.
What is covered in the health check?
An impedence scale is used to assess:
- total fat mass
- visceral fat mass (the ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’ body fat). – total muscle mass
Protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals (which often go undetected for many years):
- vitamins A, B-complex, D, K
- zinc, copper, magnesium, iodine, iron, calcium, phophate, chromium
Heart and arteries
Assessment of the degree of any build-up of ‘plaques of fat’ in the arteries, in particular the coronary arteries of the heart (atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease, which causes heart attacks and angina). Although blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar are extremely important, other risk factors are included.
Although most people don’t require the following procedures, they will be discussed on a case-by-case basis in your report: CT coronary artery calcium score, stress echocardiogram (‘stress test’ followed by an ultrasound of the heart) or CT coronary angiogram. Only about 10% of men I see in my practice will need to have further cardiac testing (I work in close collaboration with a small group of cardiologists).
- Testosterone and other male hormones (particularly if overweight or obese)
- Thyroid function
- Insulin (if overweight or obese)
- Other hormone levels are added if indicated
Gut and liver health
This covers all the gut problems you may currently have (bloating, discomfort in the abdomen, excess flatulence, diarrhoea or constipation) and any associations with certain foods. Screening for gluten intolerance and for infection of the stomach by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is included in the health check. If indicated, an initial stool analysis for faecal parasites is added. A detailed assessment of gut health is however not included for time reasons (read more under ‘Gut Health’ on the home page). In any case, it is much more effective to first improve nutritional status and correct some health problems before proceeding to a comprehensive gut assessment.
As well as looking for skin cancers, the presence and interpretation of other skin disorders (eg eczema, rosacea, psoriasis) is included in the integrated assessment.
A small screening device is used during physical examination if you are at increased risk of lung disease (in particular ex-smoker/smoker, family history, asthma). The indication for any other procedure is discussed on a case-by-case basis.
Cancer prevention and screening
It is estimated that up to 90% of cancers are preventable.
- Prostate cancer
The age at which to start screening varies according to family history and other risk factors. In the vast majority of men, aggressive prostate cancers remain silent until they have spread to other parts of the body, commonly the bones. You can decline a prostate examination after discussion on the pros and cons of screening for prostate cancer. Many men avoid health checks because of their fear of having a prostate examination
- Testicular cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Skin cancer
Screening for cancers other than those listed above is discussed on a case-by-case basis.
These include frequency, urgency and getting up at night more than once.
Assessment of erection difficulties and low libido (sex drive).
Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
Detection and prevention of osteoporosis.
Format of the health check
The total time required to complete the health check is about 8 hours (2x 2-hour face-to-face consultations, 4 hours to write the report).
You will complete a detailed questionnaire prior to your initial consultation.
Initial consultation (health check part 1, total two hours) Review of your questionnaire.
Comprehensive ‘head-to-toe’ physical examination.
Organising all pathology tests. The exact set of tests is tailored to each individual.
After your initial consultation you will have your blood, urine, and possibly other samples, collected by a pathology laboratory. Specific instructions will need to be followed, so generally the sample collection takes place in the days following the consultation. I will then write a detailed report which will include all your results, the implications of these results and all the management recommendations.
Second consultation (health check part 2, total two hours)
Review of your health report. Two hours is the time required to cover the many aspects of your comprehensive health check.
Your initial health report becomes the baseline document for subsequent health checks. It takes several hours to write and explains the higher cost of your first health check when compared with subsequent annual health checks.
The cost of the health check does not include any subsequent consultations which may be required to implement some of the more complex recommendations (for example organising further cardiac testing if indicated).
The comprehensive health check takes approx. 5 hours to complete. Cost for the first yearly health check (a Medicare rebate is available for Australian residents):
|Less than 35 years||AUD 3280.00||Subsequent yearly health check AUD 1880.00|
|35-49 years||AUD 3480.00||Subsequent yearly health check AUD 1880.00|
|50 years and older||AUD 3680.00||Subsequent yearly health check AUD 1880.00|
The different cost according to age group is due to the increasing complexity of health issues associated with the ageing process.