Health checks & assessments for men
You can have a Health check/assessment by booking an initial 1-hour appointment. The number of 1-hour follow-up appointments will then depend on your current health concerns or issues.
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 other 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 streamline any existing treatments (in particular when medications have already been prescribed).
In the paragraphs below, ‘health checks’ refers to both health checks and health assessments.
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, autoimmune diseases (eg rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease) and cancer
- To improve fertility when couples are having difficulty conceiving or are considering having children.
- 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 to start in their 20s, to maximise the preventive potential of the process.
- Even if you have already developed significant health problems, 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 often a sign of poor health (physical as well as emotional). Erections difficulties should be considered caused by blockage of the small arteries of the penis until proven otherwise.
How often should men have a health check?
Men younger than 40 should have a health check every 2 to 3 years. Men 40 and older should have a health check every 1 to 2 years.
What is covered in the health check?
An impedence scale is used to assess:
- total fat mass.
- visceral fat mass (the ‘bad’ body fat when there is too much of it).
- Muscle mass.
Deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals (which often go undetected for many years, all are private billing only)
- vitamins A, B-complex, D.
- zinc, copper, magnesium, iodine (where appropriate), iron, calcium, phosphate, chromium.
Heart and arteries
Assessment of the degree of any build-up of ‘plaques of fat’ (atherosclerosis) in the arteries, in particular the coronary arteries of the heart (coronary artery 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 angiogram (which includes a coronary calcium score) or a stress echocardiogram (‘stress test’ followed by an ultrasound of the heart). 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).
- Insulin (particularly if overweight or obese).
- Other hormones may be assessed 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.