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A Father’s Day Gift for Dad: Talk About His Health

Father's Day
A daughter and son pose for a photo with their father.

What can you get for the #1 dad in your life? Get him to open up about his health. Men tend to be more reluctant to talk about their health than women. Surveys show that more than half of all men don’t keep up with regular health screenings. Father’s Day could be an opportune time to show you care with a heartfelt chat and reminder that many diseases which disproportionately impact men — like heart disease and cancer — are preventable through routine check-ups and healthy lifestyle choices. 

Start at the beginning. If dad doesn’t have a healthcare provider, help him find one. Call 888-700-6543 or visit our Find a Doctor feature for information on physician specialties, office hours, locations and accepted insurance plans.

Problems with the prostate

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men. 

In its early stages, prostate cancer has few or no symptoms – which is why regular screening exams are important, according to Michael Leapman, MD, a urologist at Yale New Haven Hospital and an assistant professor of urology at Yale School of Medicine. 

While all men are at risk for prostate cancer, the most common risk factor is age.  Some men, however, are at additional increased risk. 

“Patients at risk of more aggressive disease include those with a strong family history and those who are African American. There is also an association with the BRCA gene, so patients with a strong family history of breast cancer should also be monitored closely,” Dr. Leapman said.

Encourage dad to see his doctor if he has frequent or difficult urination; urgent need to urinate; pain in the lower back and in the area between the rectum and the testicles; pain or a burning sensation while urinating; or blood in the urine. 

“Prostate cancer is treatable and usually curable if detected at an early stage,” Dr. Leapman said.

Learn more about Urology and Men’s Health Services at YNHH or call 203-785-2815.

Don’t skip the colonoscopy screening

Colon cancer screening is an important part of routine health care. The American Cancer Society now recommends people begin regular screening at age 45. Some patients with a family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease may need to get screened earlier as well. 

Xavier Llor, MD, medical director of the Colorectal Cancer Prevention Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, and professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine advises people not to miss their routine colonoscopy screening. “Colonoscopy screenings can prevent cancer or at least catch it at an earlier stage when it is much more curable,” he said

If your dad has signs and symptoms — such as abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits, bleeding, constipation or diarrhea — he should let his doctor know.  Dad may be reluctant about what he thinks is an uncomfortable procedure. Reassure him that he may be able to choose from several different colon cancer screening tests such as stool testing or a CT colonography, depending on his risk factors

Learn more about Gastrointestinal Screenings and Prevention at YNHH

Combat cholesterol 

Almost 30 percent of American adults have high cholesterol — and many may not even know it. Untreated high cholesterol can increase risk of heart disease or stroke. 

Men ages 45 to 65 (and women ages 55 to 65) should have cholesterol screenings every one to two years. People over 65 should have their cholesterol checked every year. Depending on your results, your doctor might recommend more frequent screenings, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. 

 “Curb Your Cholesterol" is a program at Yale New Haven Health that helps reduce cholesterol levels. If dad’s levels are high, this program — which includes weekly coaching sessions — will give him the tools to improve his cholesterol numbers. Learn more about the “Curb Your Cholesterol" program. Call Home Care Plus - Community Healthcare & Hospice at 866-474-5230.

Learn more about the sneaky signs of heart disease.

Halt hypertension

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) directly increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure. Before age 55, men are more likely than women to develop hypertension. 

Hypertension is called the “silent killer” because there are few or no symptoms. Ask your dad to see his doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years. If he (or you) are 40 or older, or considered at high risk for high blood pressure, ask the doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. 

Yale New Haven Health offers a Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure program designed to help reduce blood pressure and prevent or treat heart disease. For the duration of the program, which is available as a short-term two-week program or a longer 90-day program depending on dad’s individual needs, he will be coached by a Home Care Plus registered nurse on heart-healthy lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. To learn more about Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure program, call Home Care Plus - Community Healthcare & Hospice

Learn more about how physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital treat hypertension

Wrestling with weight loss 

Does dad struggle with his weight? People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, sleep apnea and breathing problems and several types of cancer. Weight-loss surgery can be an effective treatment for obesity and accompanying health conditions. The procedure – along with the required lifestyle changes -- can result in significant weight loss and better health. 

What makes someone eligible for weight-loss surgery? YNHH’s weight-loss surgery program serves those with a body mass index (BMI), or a ratio of weight to height, of 40+, or 35 with accompanying health problems. Use this BMI calculator from the National Institutes of Health to find out more.

YNHH offers live webinars where you can learn about the latest advances in weight-loss surgery. Led by board-certified bariatric surgeons, these free webinars cover all you need to know about weight-loss surgery. Our experts also answer key questions: What types of surgery are available? Does it hurt? How fast will I lose weight? Will insurance cover the cost of the surgery? When can I go back to work?

Register now for a free informational webinar

Learn more about YNHH’s Bariatric Surgery Program.

YNHHS uses the terms "female" and "male" to reflect biological status typically assigned at birth, and "women" and "men" when referring to gender. According to the Human Rights Campaign, a doctor or midwife assigns a child's sex as male, female or intersex at birth based on their external anatomy. Gender identity is one's innermost identification of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither. Gender identification may differ from birth sex.