Visiting your primary care physician? Our three-part series explores various patients – men, women and children – and the numbers that are considered healthy during routine screenings.
Part I – Men
Arthur Hong, M.D., NCH Medical Group Family Medicine Physician, discusses what numbers men should know and why.
Getting your blood pressure checked is very important. The new definition of normal blood pressure, according to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association’s updated guidelines is under 120/80. The first number is the systolic pressure in your blood vessels when the heart is pumping out blood. The bottom number is the diastolic, the blood pressure when the heart is relaxed. Knowing your blood pressure is important because there are silent killers such as heart disease and stroke that can develop if it isn’t checked and lowered with medication. A healthy person should have it checked at least once a year and at every office visit. If it’s high, you should have it checked more frequently.
Patients with high blood pressure can benefit from having a blood pressure cuff at home, or visiting the local pharmacy to use their machine.
At an annual physical, one thing we look at is a patient’s BMI (body mass index) and if it’s elevated, we know that a patient is at risk for high cholesterol. We often check cholesterol at an annual physical. We look at LDL (low density lipoprotein) or “bad cholesterol.” The normal range for men is anything less than 100.
We check HDL – the high density lipoprotein – which is the good cholesterol, and we like to see that number be above 40. Total cholesterol should be less than 200. Your triglycerides normal range would be less than 150.
For patients who aren’t in good ranges, the initial step would be lifestyle changes. Get regular exercise at least two and a half hours per week. Aim for a diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in saturated fats.
Family history of heart issues or high cholesterol would definitely raise your risk.
Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL. If a patient is between 100 to 126, that would be considered prediabetic and anything above that would be considered diabetic. We also check an A1C – for borderline and diabetic patients. The information tells you what someone’s blood sugar level is on average over the last three months.
A lot of patients don’t know something is wrong until they have a heart attack or stroke. Diabetes can affect your heart, kidneys, nerves and vision.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for males over 50. A lot of men who have it don’t have any symptoms. It’s very common, but fortunately it’s generally a very treatable and not very aggressive cancer. The recommended ages to consider screening are 55 through 69, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The screening test is called a prostate specific antigen or PSA and 0 to 4 ng/ml is considered within normal ranges.
We can calculate BMI at an annual physical. A good BMI is between 18 to 25; 25 to 30 is overweight and above 30 is in the obesity range. That information tells us what the patient’s risk factor would be for sleep apnea, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Number of cigarettes, alcohol per day
For smoking, it should be 0. One important number could be a quit date. Setting one is the first step – a number on the calendar. Your next step is to figure out what works best for you to quit smoking. There are patches, gum, lozenges and prescription medications proven to help people quit.
Alcohol use should be limited to 2 drinks per day for a healthy male.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, you may want to visit a fertility clinic to have a semen analysis. A normal sperm count ranges from 15 million to more than 200 million sperm per mL. Anything less than 15 million is considered low. The test tells the volume, shape and mobility of sperm.
Dr. Hong is accepting new patients at 500 North Hicks Road, Suite 100 in Palatine.
Call 847-221-8700 to schedule an appointment.