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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 healthcare.

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 complications.

“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 so important.”

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.