About Dr. Aaron Boyer

Dr. Aaron Boyer is a family medicine doctor at Methodist Medical Group at Peartree in Peoria. He welcomes new patients. Call 309-691-1250 to make an appointment.

Men: Make sure you’re getting these screenings

Most men don’t like going to the doctor.

But it’s important for men to get regular screenings to catch problems early—and help prevent them from turning into something more serious down the road.

Get your blood pressure checked every two years, and more often as you age. Have your cholesterol checked starting at age 35, or younger if you smoke, have diabetes or a family history of heart disease.

Colorectal screening to detect polyps before they can turn into cancer should begin at age 50. There are several types of screening, so talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.

Prostate cancer is detected with a blood test (PSA) or through a digital rectal exam, but there is some controversy about the benefits of regular PSA screening over a certain age, so ask your doctor.

Smokers (or former smokers) between the age of 65 and 75 should also be screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a potentially deadly condition.

How to avoid the ‘silent killer’ — high blood pressure

You get your blood pressure measured every time you go to the doctor. But unless your blood pressure is high, you might not even know what those numbers mean.

The top number (systolic) is pressure in the arteries during the heartbeat, when the heart contracts. The bottom number (diastolic) is pressure in the arteries between heartbeats, when the heart relaxes.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is created by the heart as it pumps blood through the arteries and the circulatory system.


Pre-Hypertension: 121/81 to 139/89
Stage 1: 140/90 to 159/99
Stage 2: 160/100 and higher

Hypertension causes

  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Eating too much sodium and/or saturated fat
  • Smoking or excessive drinking
  • Certain medical conditions

Hypertension symptoms

  • Severe headache
  • Visual changes
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood in the urine

If the nurse tells you your blood pressure is “120 over 80,” that’s great. Lower is sometimes fine, too — especially for athletes.

But high blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common. About one third of African Americans have high blood pressure, as do almost a quarter of Caucasians and Hispanics. It is more common in people older than 55. Many people who have high blood pressure do not realize it.

Hypertension complications

Over time, the extra pressure can damage the arteries, making them more vulnerable to the narrowing and plaque buildup associated with atherosclerosis — the hardening of the arteries.

This leads to blockage and weakening of the walls of small blood vessels in the brain, causing them to balloon and burst. The risk of stroke is directly related to how high the blood pressure is.

Hypertensive heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death associated with high blood pressure.

Congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle) can also result from hypertension.

Some medicines for headaches, migraines, colds and weight loss can worsen high blood pressure.

Blood pressure management

Pay attention next time you get your blood pressure checked. Remember, 120 over 80 is good.

Lead a healthy lifestyle — exercise, not too much salt or saturated fats, no smoking and only moderate drinking — especially if you are overweight or over 55. The best way to deal with high blood pressure is to prevent it.

How — and why — to become a moderate exerciser

Many Americans have little or no physical activity in their daily lives. Approximately 24 percent of adults in the United States do not engage in any leisure time physical activity, while only about 49 percent perform the recommended amount of physical activity (at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days per week). Getting regular physical activity can help keep your heart healthy, prevent some diseases, and make depression better. It also can help you stay at a healthy weight and give you more energy.

Most people should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on at least five days of the week. You can split up the 30 minutes of physical activity into 10-minute blocks. Moderate-intensity activity makes you feel like you feel when you walk fast. If moderate-intensity is too hard, you can start slower and work up to it.

There are many activities that you can do at a moderate level to stay healthy.

Aerobic exercise

Walking is an excellent aerobic activity. Cycling, rowing, stair machine climbing, and other endurance-type activities are also great. Swimming and water aerobics are excellent for people with arthritis. Low-impact activities are recommended because they are less likely to result in physical injury. Running on a street is a higher impact activity because of the stresses on the feet and legs as they strike the ground with each step.

hikingThe exercises should be enjoyable and simple to carry out to encourage a long-term commitment. It may be best to vary the exercises you do each week (such as swim on three of the days and walk on three of the days) to decrease repetitive strain to your muscles and other tissues.

There is no age specific heart rate recommendation; a specific heart rate is not necessary to achieve health benefits. If you are breathless, fatigued, and sweating, you have worked hard enough. During moderate intensity exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation.

A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., brisk walking) is recommended on five days each week. Alternately, you can perform 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., jogging) on three days each week. This recommendation is in addition to routine, light-intensity activities of daily living (e.g., cooking, casual walking, shopping, etc.).

lifting weights

Resistance training

Resistance training can be done with weights, machines, or exercise bands. It should be performed at least twice a week with at least 48 hours of rest between sessions. Resistance training is commonly described in terms of “sets” of “repetitions.”

  • A repetition is a single completed back and forth motion of a resistance exercise, such as bending and extending the arm at the elbow while holding a weight in the hand.
  • A set is a number of repetitions done without resting.

Most experts recommend at least one set of exercises, including 8 to 12 repetitions, for each of the major muscle groups. Begin with minimal resistance (light weights, resistive bands, or even a can of food) to allow the muscles and other tissues to adapt.

It is important to use proper technique. If you belong to a health club, ask a trainer to observe your technique. Be sure to breathe normally while lifting weights. Do not hold the breath; instead, exhale with exertion. Do not perform resistance training if you are in pain or have swelling anywhere.


yogaStretching and flexibility exercises should include every major joint (hip, back, shoulder, knee, upper trunk, neck). It is best not to stretch “cold” muscles, so engage in a few minutes of low intensity aerobic exercise first. Movement into a stretch should be slow, and the stretch itself should be held for approximately 10 to 30 seconds. Do not bounce while beginning or performing a stretch.

Each exercise should be performed several times. Stretch and yoga classes are also a good way to remain flexible. The stretch should not cause pain, but only mild discomfort.

You can also work physical activity into what you already do. For example, walk to the store instead of driving, use a push instead of a riding lawnmower, or park further from entrances.

Making a plan can help you get started. Think about what activities you would enjoy and when and where you can do them. Some people like to do physical activities by themselves. Others like to do physical activity with a partner or in an organized group. Consider planning active time with family members to set a good example, or help them get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to increase your physical activity.


  • Drink fluids during and after exercise. Thirst is a good indicator that more fluids are needed.
  • Do not exercise outdoors if the temperature is too hot or too cold.
  • Wear supportive, well-fitting running or walking shoes. Replace shoes when signs of deterioration develop (e.g., cracking, separation of shoe from the sole, imprint of the foot in the insole). The amount of time exercise shoes will last depends upon a number of factors, including how often and where the shoes are worn.

More information


Feeling low on energy?

Low on energy?Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Eight hours is best, but 7 can suffice for most people. I would also go so far to say that the sleep you get prior to midnight is more important than those hours afterward. In other words, it’s better to go to bed earlier and get up earlier, than to go to bed late and sleep in.

Diet is also very important. Fast foods and processed meals should be few and far between. Stick with these basic rules for eating:

  • Eat real food. (Real fruits, vegetables, and lean meats that you have to prepare.)
  • Eat mostly plants. (The bulk of the food on your plate should be vegetables, legumes, grains and fruits.)
  • Don’t stuff yourself. (Don’t eat till you’re full, just till you’re satisfied.)

If you’re doing those, then a good daily multivitamin as well as judicious use of caffeine can be of benefit as well.