Doctors' Notes

Five Health Tips All Black Men Should Know

Our physician experts examine how good relationships can improve your health. Opening your heart can help to keep it healthy.
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Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 


It is National Men’s Health Month!  This is the perfect time as men to remember to take time out to ensure we are healthy, and for women to encourage the men in their lives to take their health seriously as we spotlight the prevention of diseases affecting the men in our community.

Unfortunately, our men just don’t go to the doctor.  Whether it is because of fear, lack of access or simply not making it a priority, the health crisis facing the men in our community is not going away unless we all do our part and take a loved one to the doctor.

Statistically speaking, almost half of all men under the age of 50 don’t have a primary care physician and therefore don’t take part in screening tests and preventive health measures. Unfortunately, African-American men are twice as likely to die from highly preventable and/or treatable chronic diseases and illnesses.  Early detection and intervention are the keys to improving the overall health of our men.

Here are the top five screening tests men over the age of 30 should consider:

1. Waist Circumference: Central obesity is best measured by waist circumference and is an indicator of the possible risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

2. Blood Pressure Screening: Heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure are the most common complications of untreated high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also lead to erectile dysfunction. Forty-percent of African-American adults have high blood pressure and less than 30 percent of them have it under control.

3. Cholesterol: Many African-Americans have an increased risk of heart disease and therefore cholesterol screening should begin at age 20. Assuming cholesterol levels are normal, they should then be checked every five years thereafter.

4. EKG: An EKG is a test used to check for changes in the electrical activity of the heart. Issues pertaining to the heart such as damage to the heart muscle, enlargement of the heart, heart murmurs/rhythm problems can all be detected by using an EKG.

5. Depression Screening: Mental illness is an issue that is taboo in our community and a topic that is highly avoided amongst African American men. The symptoms of mental illness are very different in men than in women and this is a reason to discuss all of your symptoms, both physical and emotional with your healthcare provider.

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!