(BPT) - When it comes to health, perception is not always reality. This is especially true when considering how men care for themselves when faced with a health condition. In fact, while most men would say they are more focused on their health than they have been in the past, physicians report a different truth. This difference is especially concerning when it comes to treating chronic conditions, because failure to follow treatment regimens may lead to bigger health problems in the future.
Missed appointments and opportunities
According to research from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which surveyed its member physicians, one in five doctors said up to half of their male patients failed to fill a prescription. In addition, one in three doctors said that up to half of their male patients did not take a prescription as directed. Four in ten reported that up to half of their male patients failed to follow up with a regular routine test when ordered for their condition.
In addition, nearly a quarter of surveyed doctors said up to half of their male patients failed to show up for planned follow-up visits.
These missed opportunities come at a time when chronic conditions among men continue to rise. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Survey, diagnoses of three common, yet potentially severe, conditions all have increased year over year. The data shows that cases of high blood pressure (4 percent increase), high cholesterol (5 percent) and diabetes (2 percent) have all seen notable increases.
'People may not take these conditions seriously because they don't have any noticeable symptoms, and that's a big mistake,' says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the AAFP. 'High blood pressure and high cholesterol have been called 'silent killers' for a reason. If they aren't controlled, they can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. In addition to these complications, uncontrolled diabetes also can cause blindness, nerve damage and loss of limbs.
'So it's vital that men see their doctors, get preventive care and follow instructions for any chronic diseases they may have.'
Finding solutions for ongoing care
Fortunately, taking a more proactive approach to health care is easier than most men think. A visit to your family physician is the first step toward taking charge of your health and identifying any health issues. Your family physician will help you learn about any chronic conditions you might have and how to treat them. For health information that is easy to understand, visit familydoctor.org. You'll find a men's guide to preventive health care, and information about healthy diets and weight control. Follow the advice provided here, as well as your doctor's recommendations, and you'll turn your goal for good health from simple perception into reality.