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( — The importance of annual physical exams for African American adults cannot be stressed enough. Regular exams can very often help uncover risk factors and problems before they become serious. Plus, if a disease is caught early, treatment is usually much more effective. Ultimately, having regular doctor’s visits will help you live a long and healthier, happier life.

Depending on your age, gender and family medical history, a checkup with your doctor may include:

• Blood, urine, vision and hearing tests to evaluate your overall health

• Assessments of your blood pressure, cholesterol level and weight

• A discussion about your diet and exercise habits, and any tobacco, drug and alcohol use

• Immunizations and booster shots

• Screenings to assess your risk of developing certain diseases, including diabetes (if you already have high blood pressure or high cholesterol) and cancer

• Depending on your age and sexual lifestyle, testing for STDs and possibly HIV

• Starting at age 40, screening for colorectal cancer

• A discussion about depression and stress to evaluate your mental health

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For men, in addition to checking weight, blood pressure and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

• Starting at age 40, a rectal exam to check for abnormalities in the prostate and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer

• Between the ages of 65 and 75, if you have ever smoked cigarettes, an abdominal exam to check for an enlargement in your aorta. An abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weakness in the lining of the aorta (a large blood vessel in your chest and abdomen), can develop with age and become a life-threatening problem.


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