Black Men: Making Your Health a Priority

Black Men: Making Your Health a Priority

Brothers, let’s face it, you take care of your family; you take care of work matters, you care about your outward appearance, but what about your health? Do you go to the doctor regularly? Sadly, Black men in particular are more likely to be judged by their race, whether they’ve been incarcerated or whether they pay child support than whether they are healthy. 

The New Year offers a fresh opportunity to change how you look at getting and staying healthy. Black men need to see a physician, regardless of whether they are feeling under the weather. It is critical to try and develop a relationship with a doctor’s office or clinic because many health issues that are important can only be detected by looking at changes in health over time. Maybe these stats will convince you to make your health a priority: 

• African-American men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than White males. 

• 36 percent of Black men are obese 

• 3.7 million of all African-Americans 20 or older have diabetes 

Here are the important screenings you should have based on your age: AGES 20-39 

Weight and body mass index (BMI) 

How often: Annually. Approximately 2 of 3 adults are now overweight or obese, which can increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments, according to the American Heart Association. Just because you’re in the gym regularly doesn’t mean you’re at a healthy weight or BMI (which is 18.5 to 24.9). “The misconception that many Black men have is that because they exercise and have muscles they don’t need to worry about their weight. That’s not true. 

Blood Pressure 

How often: At each doctor’s visit, but if your readings are high—between 120 and 139 for the top (systolic) number or between 80 and 89 for the bottom (diastolic) number—or if you have diabetes, heart disease or kidney problems, your physician will most likely monitor your blood pressure more often. 

Sexual/Reproductive Health 

How often: You should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV as well as other STDs annually, depending on your lifestyle. Also, it’s recommended that you have your testicles examined for testicular cancer during your periodic medical exams. 

Cholesterol 

How often: Every four to six years, unless you’re at risk for heart disease and stroke and your doctor thinks you should be tested more frequently.

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