WESLACO – With Father’s day coming in less than two weeks and
with the entire month of June being designated as Men’s Health Month,
one local physician is encouraging men to take a proactive role in their
Weslaco Family Medicine physician Dr. Matt Loewen said the biggest contributors
to maintaining good health for men are diet, exercise and regular checkups.
“The most important thing in men’s health is lifestyle. It’s
so important to stay healthy and not let yourself go, which means eating
right and getting regular exercise,” he said. “The other thing
is to get regular checkups. There are many diseases that are silent that
you won’t even know about until you see your doctor. So many men
wait until they have symptoms to see their doctor, and by then they’ve
got big problems.”
Loewen said the most common health issues that men should be familiar with
are hypertension – or high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes,
prostate cancer, and colon cancer.
According to the American Heart Association, the dangers of chronic hypertension
include permanent damage to the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys, and it
can lead to serious health concerns including heart attack and stroke.
For adults over 20 years old, blood pressure readings should normally
be less than 120/80, according to the American Heart Association.
Loewen said that unless men are checking their blood pressure on a regular
basis, they may never know that they are suffering from hypertension.
“There are no symptoms for elevated blood pressure unless it’s
really high,” he said. “The only way to be aware of it is
to check it.”
Like hypertension, the symptoms of diabetes can often be ignored or missed,
but Loewen said not being aware of the disease can lead to major health
“The longer a disease has progressed unchecked, the more damage it’s
already caused and the harder it is to treat,” he said. “A
lot of diseases, when they’re mild, can be fixed with lifestyle
changes. But if men wait until it’s too bad, lifestyle changes just
aren’t enough and that’s when they require medication and
more advanced treatments.”
Loewen said early detection is important to successfully treating both
colon and prostate cancer. Men should start receiving regular colonoscopies
to screen for colon cancer when they turn 50 years old. Men should receive
the PSA blood test for prostate cancer screening every two years beginning
at 40 years old, and then yearly at 50 years old, he said.
When it comes to maintaining good health, a man’s mindset can often
be the biggest barrier.
“That’s the thing with us men – we’re stubborn
and there’s a lot more denial,” he said. “There’s
this belief that as long as we feel OK, there’s no reason to do
anything. So the big hurdle is convincing men that if they feel OK, that
doesn’t always mean everything is OK, which is why checkups are
Loewen’s clinic is a part of Knapp Medical Group and is located at
1600 N. Westgate Drive, Suite 800 in Weslaco. His clinic can be reached
via phone at (956) 854-4260.