CLEVELAND, OHIO — Father’s Day is all about celebrating the ones you love, but it’s also a good time to talk to your dad about his health, especially as he starts to get older.
“We do recommend that everybody start screening at age 50,” said Donald Ford, MD, Cleveland Clinic.
He said by 50 years old, men should be talking to their doctor about getting tested for colon cancer and prostate cancer. The same goes for lung cancer if they have a history of smoking or if there’s another reason to be suspicious. He said they’re also on the lookout for skin cancer and heart disease.
“The number one killer of men in this country is heart disease. So all of the factors that contribute to heart disease, which include cholesterol and blood pressure, presence of diabetes, these are all important. These are things that we do look for and screen on a regular basis, typically at an annual exam,” said Dr. Ford.
According to the American Heart Association, roughly 80% of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, are preventable. So what can you do to improve your health?
“Having a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, eating well. There’s not a particular diet that is recommended. There’s no one size fits all in terms of eating habits, but there are some principles we do recommend in general. Staying away from fatty foods, junk food and particularly sugar,” said Dr. Ford.
He said just because someone may feel fine, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, which is why annual exams are so important.
“A lot of these illnesses are asymptomatic until later, and so we really hope that people aren’t just waiting until they’re sick to come see the doctor. We try to make a warm and inviting place where people are safe, where we can talk about these issues and allow them to make informed decisions about what testing and screening is right for them,” said Dr. Ford.
He said it can also be helpful to know your family history so doctors can test for certain diseases.