Men must focus more on health, says doctor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am

Regular check-ups can prevent a range of deadly diseases from taking hold

Middle-aged men who seek health checks because of a failing sex life often find there is a lot more to their problems than being past their prime.

This was the warning yesterday from a medical specialist who estimated 90 per cent of men over 40 were not receiving regular check-ups despite being at risk of developing serious diseases.

Leading urologist Andrew Yip Wai-chun said many men - including a quarter of those attending a clinic where he is a consultant - were prompted to seek checks by sex-related problems such as erectile dysfunction or prostate symptoms.

A third of these were diagnosed with severe underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Dr Yip, honorary consultant to the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Well Men Clinic, said health risks increased among men as they aged.

This was especially so for those with unhealthy lifestyles involving drinking, smoking, overeating and obesity.

'Health awareness among men in Hong Kong is still very poor. When Hong Kong people always talk about risk management in the context of business management, they should also be aware of the risk management of their own health,' he said.

The Department of Health should gear up public education to promote health awareness among men instead of simply focusing on women, he said.

Dr Yip was commenting on findings of a survey of 2,093 men conducted by the $8 million clinic when it opened in July last year.

He said the attendance rate at the clinic was 'extremely unsatisfactory', with its services underused by a third.

Dr Yip said the clinic, with two full-time doctors and three nurses, could serve 16 clients a day but was seeing an average of 12 - 4,442 people in its first year. Of these, 2,093 had comprehensive checks and 2,349 had laboratory tests.

Based on the attendance rate, he estimated that fewer than 200,000 men aged 40 and older received regular health check - less than 10 per cent of the 2 million population in the age group.

There are about 10 male clinics in the city, mostly in the private sector. The Tung Wah clinic charges about 20 per cent less than private hospitals and clinics, according to Dr Yip.

He warned that many diseases were 'silent killers', which might not have symptoms but could kill quickly.

Men over 40 should receive health checks once every two to three years and should increase this to once a year after 50.

Retired primary school teacher Ng Tak-fong, 68, said he did not spot his heart disease until he received a health check at the clinic in March and has since had surgery.

'I thought I was healthy and did not need health checks,' he said.

Why the 2,093 participants were having a medical checkup

Regular body checkup: 72%

Prostate problems: 12%

Erectile dysfunction: 11%

Heart disease: 3%

Mood problems: under 1%

Other: 1%

Source: Kwong Wah Well Men Clinic