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The Father's Day gift that keeps on giving

June 20, 2010 |  7:00 am

Dad, Father's Day Without further ado, here's a Booster Shots tribute to dads and their families, courtesy of Dr. Marc Siegel, a practicing internist who writes the Unreal World column for the Health section, and Dr. David Samadi, a practicing urologist and the chief of robotics at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York.
 
* * *

Guys out there, give yourselves a present for Father’s Day -- go to the doctor. Do you want to be around to receive another godawful tie from your kids next year? Go to your doctor now to make sure you have the chance. Are you having problems peeing or difficulty getting aroused? Don’t argue, see your urologist. It could save your life.
 
Unfortunately, statistics show that you guys are just not doing it. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has just released the results of a sobering survey showing that just 57% of American men see a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant for routine care on a yearly basis. The number is much higher for women -- 74%.
 
Further, it appears that the men who need care the most are often the ones less likely to seek it. Three-quarters of men who said they were in excellent health sought routine care versus only half of men who reported being in fair to poor health. What better time than Father’s Day to make a resolution to change your ways? If not for yourself, do it for your family.
 
If you come to see your internist or family practitioner, we won’t attack you; we will simply check your blood pressure, your weight, your cholesterol, your glucose and your PSA (if you’re over 40). These are all crucial measurements to make sure you aren’t at risk for a heart attack, diabetes, stroke or prostate cancer.

High blood pressure is the most common chronic disease and the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting one out of three adults, or 65 million people. More than 102 million adults have elevated cholesterol levels. You can learn to change your lifestyle, or if needed, we can give you medicine that will help you. 

Prostate cancer will be diagnosed in one in six men in the U.S., and it kills 30,000 men every year, the second-biggest cancer killer of men after skin cancer. We can screen you for prostate cancer and for colon cancer over age 50, which, when we catch it early, can be cured. We want you to be around next year.
 
What exactly is your prostate? It lives right below your bladder, and although it is just the size of a plum, it causes big problems. The prostate can grow and block the urinary stream, or it can develop a lethal form of cancer. Although recent studies have provided conflicting results regarding the PSA blood test, we continue to value its usefulness. We don’t believe in over-treatment, or that everyone with prostate cancer should be treated. But we do believe that knowledge is power, and a simple blood test can help us gain that knowledge.
 
Make yourself a Father’s Day resolution: Go to see your doctor so that your kids have a holiday to celebrate next year at this time.

And now for some helpful health links ...

- The risk factors for high blood pressure.

- The risk factors for a heart attack.

- How to manage cholesterol.

... and some statistics for U.S. men and cholesterol by age, from the National Center for Health Statistics:

- 11% of men age 20-34 have high cholesterol.

- 21.1% of men age 35-44 have high cholesterol.

- 22.9% of men age 45-54 have high cholesterol.

- 16.5% of men age 55-64 have high cholesterol.

As for information about prostate health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a primer on informed decision-making, the National Cancer Institute explains cancer screening, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation offers a look at physiology

 -- Drs. Marc Siegel and David Samadi

Become a fan: We've set up a page dedicated to fitness, medical and health news at facebook.com/latimeshealth.

Photo: What better time than Father’s Day to make a resolution to change your ways? Credit: Al Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (2)

The patient should decide whether he wants his PSA measured after having a serious discussion with his practioner. That's what the guidelines say.

For years, I tried to be a good guy and went to the doctor every year for a physical; but I quit a few years back. I would go into the room and I would mention my concerns. The doctor would dismiss them all with a blink and then would check my heart through my shirt and would barely touch me. I got sent for a blood test where my cholesterol was high and my blood pressure was always a little high.

Take drugs she said. What about excercise, what about diet? Nope, just take the drugs. What about the things I mentioned, all those little things that happen as you get older. No matter, just get your numbers in line.

I haven't a single relative going back generations that ever had a heart problem. If I go to Mayo's website and punch in my numbers, I have a 12% risk of a heart attack. If I had the perfect cholesterol and blood pressure, it would be 11% and who knows what the drugs would do to me over time.

I'm really tired being some sort of public health issue, I want to be treated like an individual. When I find a doctor who can do that, I'll start going every year. Until then, I'm trying to eat better and excercise regularly.



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