ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — November is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center is doing their part to keep veterans healthy. They’re emphasizing the importance of men getting regular check-ups and finding the right primary care physician that’s right for them. Our Morgan Koziar sits down with Dr. Weldon Miller, Primary Care Physician to learn more.

What can you tell us about Men’s Health Awareness month?

  • Good health encompases both physical and mental health.
  • On average, men go to the doctor’s office less often and participate in preventive care less frequently than women. So, this month is really about raising awareness and encouraging men to see their primary care providers and talk about how they’re doing.

What are some aspects of physical health that men should be aware of?

  • Top three causes of death for men are heart disease, cancer, and unintentional accidents. So, for men who know they have high cholesterol or a family history of heart problems, talk with your primary care provider about having your cholesterol checked and ways to lower your risks.
  • For cancer, we encourage men to get all the appropriate cancer screenings: This includes colon cancer testing, screening for prostate cancer, and for people who smoke, possibly lung cancer screening. Each of these apply to differenent age groups and there are pros/cons, so you’ll want to talk with your PCP about which ones are applicable for you.
  • For accidents, the best advice I can offer is be safe! Handle firearms and power tools safely and follow instructions. Never handle firearms or power tools, or operate side-by-sides or vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

And how about mental health?

  • We know that women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression; however, men are much less likely to seek treatment. I think that’s because there is this stigma that talking about our feelings or admitting we’re feeling depressed is seen as “wimpy” or “weak.” There really are many effective treatments for depression, so patients can hopefully find solutions that fit with their life. If it’s ok, I will ask our viewers today two simple questions. If they answer yes to either of these questions, I would encourage them to talk with their PCP.
  • First, in the last 2 weeks, have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy? Second, in the last two weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • Finally, on the mental health standpoint, if any of our viewers are worried about harming themselves or others, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can call 988 – the National Mental Health Crisis Line to seek help.

Any final recommendations on good health for our viewers?

  • Of course! As always, I encourage everyone to incorperate good diets and exercise in to their lives. This means plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and health fats like nuts, olive oil, and fish. We recommend 20 minutes/day of moderate exercise or 10 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. The easy way to get a ballpark of these levels is for moderate exercise you can carry on a conversation, but are breathing a little faster. With vigorous exercise, you should be breathing hard enough that you can say a few words, but couldn’t have a whole conversation. If you’re not exercising now, start slow and build up. And not to sound like a broken record, but speak with your PCP before jumping into a new exercise routine.
  • Let’s talk about substance use. If you use tobacco, working to quit is going to pay big dividends for your health long-term. Either not drinking or drinking in moderation (one drink a day for women and two drinks a day or less for me). And if you are using other drugs, please seek addiction services as we never want to see anyone lost to accidental overdose.
  • Finally, vaccinations are a personal choice, but I do think for most people the benefits far outweigh the risks, and I do counsel most of my patients to stay up to date on their immunizations.

The James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center is located at 2907 Pleasant Valley Blvd in Altoona. The VA has other offices in Huntingdon, Indiana, State College, Johnstown, and DuBois. The office can be reached at (877) 626-2500 or you can visit their website by clicking here.