Ten important men's health topics on Letter's 10th anniversary
BOSTON, MA — August 2006 marks the 10-year anniversary of Harvard Men's Health Watch. To celebrate, this issue revisits 10 subjects that are as important today as they were when they were first discussed in the newsletter. Among them:
- Prostate tests and treatments: Most doctors agree that prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening is the best way to detect prostate cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage—but many disagree about its value. The test is not definitive; plus, prostate cancer often grows so slowly it poses no harm, so sometimes treatment causes more problems than it solves. The good news is that the past 10 years have witnessed important advances in prostate cancer treatment.
- Cholesterol: Recent research shows that very low levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are best for people who already have cardiovascular disease.
- Erectile dysfunction: In 1998 Viagra burst onto the scene, and other similar drugs soon followed. But it is important to note that there are other effective treatments if these pills don't work.
- Hypertension: Research shows there is no sharp cutoff between normal and high blood pressure. Instead, the risk of complications begins to rise above a systolic (top) reading of 115 and a diastolic (bottom) reading of 75, levels that have been considered "low normal." Another development is a new diagnostic category, prehypertension.
- Atherosclerosis, inflammation, and C-reactive protein: Doctors can now use blood tests to detect artery inflammation. The most important test is for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP). Studies suggest that CRP can predict heart disease before it shows symptoms.